Tales from the Trail

Is it a car, is it a tank? No, it’s the presidential limo

It’s one of the world’s most highly visible vehicles, but paradoxically also one of the most secret — the U.S. president’s armored Cadillac limousine.

USA/The Secret Service said on Wednesday a new presidential limousine would make its debut at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The car will likely take the new president from the U.S. Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House after the swearing-in ceremony.

“Although many of the vehicle’s security enhancements cannot be discussed, it is safe to say that this car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world,” Nicholas Trotta, assistant director for the Office of Protective Operations, said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, a Secret Service spokeswoman would not be drawn on whether the vehicle was resistant to  bomb or chemical attacks. But it would be a safe guess to say it is.

Cadillac, a division of General Motors Corp., issued its own statement on the new vehicle, saying it had taken steps to ensure no details of its design leaked out during its manufacture.

Bush gives Republicans a little pep talk ahead of election

WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush dropped by the Republican National Committee headquarters unannounced to give the staff a little pep talk Tuesday amid polls showing Republicans trailing in the presidential contest and scores of key congressional races one week out from the general election.

Bush, with record low popularity ratings, has largely been unseen on the campaign trail this year, relegated to participating in private fundraisers for Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and congressional candidates.

“He encouraged them to work hard for John McCain and keep turning out the vote until the final ballot is cast next week,” White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said after the 20-minute visit.  “He also took the opportunity to thank the staff for all of their efforts during this election cycle and for their support of him over the last eight years.”