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White House on Bachmann's trip claim: "Wildly inflated"

Posted by: under 6th District, President Obama Updated: November 4, 2010 - 3:38 PM

Rep. Michele Bachmann and the White House are squabbling over a claim that the president’s trip to India this week will cost $200 million per day.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper Wednesday night, Bachmann said that the president’s trip — which she claimed will cost $200 million a day — was an example of “over the top spending.”

Cooper asked: “Don’t all presidents take trips overseas?”

“Not at this level,” Bachmann said. “We have never seen this sort of an entourage going with the president before.”

Bachmann told Cooper that the $200 million was "coming out in the press." The source is an article by the “Press Trust of India,” which cites an anonymous Indian official saying the cost is $200 million per day and 3,000 people were going.

The White House says it’s bogus.

“The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said in a statement. “Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it’s safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated.”

Factcheck.org found the claim was false, noting that the entire war in Afghanistan costs $190 million a day to operate. Snopes.com wrote that even if 3,000 people were going, the cost would be an "unbelievably staggering sum of $66,000 per person per day."

Geoff Morrell, a Department of Defense spokesman, also knocked down another claim made by the Press Trust of India that the U.S. was taking 34 warships on the trip — or about 10 percent of the Navy. “That's just comical,” Morrell said in a briefing. “Nothing close to that is being done.”

But Bachmann is sticking to her guns, even if the White House says the $200 million figure is false. Her spokesman Sergio Gor said on Thursday that Bachmann was simply citing what had been reported in the press.

“They can say what they want, but they haven’t released a number,” Gor said of the White House. “We’re still in a place where usually we can trust the press. That’s the only number that’s out there publicly.”

Watch the Anderson Cooper interview below:

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