A Brief History of Political Bus Tours
These politicians ditched airplanes and went by bus to campaign throughout the U.S.
Slogan: First 1,000 Miles
Entourage: 28-vehicle caravan, including four media buses and a security helicopter that flew overhead.
Area Covered: Eight states
Special Perks: The tour’s success led to a Peter Pan Bus float in the presidential inaugural parade.
Memorable Message: The media dubbed the tour Bill and Al’s Excellent Adventure after the buddy movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
President George W. Bush’s Cabinet, 2003
Slogan: Jobs and Growth
Entourage: Cabinet Secretaries John Snow, Donald Evans, and Elaine Chao
Area Covered: Two-day, six-city, 550-mile road trip in Wisconsin and Minnesota
Special Perks: The Secretaries’ luxury motor coach with a mirrored ceiling was next used by the band Aerosmith.
Memorable Message: Snow told a frustrated job seeker in a fast-food drive-through in Wisconsin: “Just wait.”
Mitt Romney, 2007
Slogan: Mitt Mobile
Entourage: Romney’s five sons
Area Covered: 3,500-mile trek through Iowa’s 99 counties
Special Perks: The campaign ensured that the RV had Iowa license plates.
Memorable Message: Romney was forced to apologize when he compared his sons’ bus trip to US soldiers’ service in Iraq.
Barack Obama, 2008
Slogan: Road to Change
Entourage: Senator Bob Casey and lots of police escorts
Area Covered: Six days across Pennsylvania
Special Perks: The “Truman” bus from MyLuxuryBus.com offered wi-fi, satellite TV, and seating for up to 28.
Memorable Message: While bowling in Altoona, Obama scored only a 37 (with two gutter balls), leading him to say: “My economic plan is better than my bowling.” A man in the crowd retorted: “It has to be.”
Sarah Palin, 2011
Slogan: One Nation
Entourage: Because Palin wouldn’t say in advance where she was heading, about ten rental cars of media chased the bus.
Area Covered: National historic sites
Special Perks: The bus’s custom exterior cost roughly $8,000.
Memorable Message: Palin’s visit to the Paul Revere House in Boston led to a confusing answer about the silversmith’s role in history.
This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
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