Reid: Prez Was Dissing Junkets, Not Vegas

Feb 11, 2009 1:52pm

"During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama came to Nevada twenty times," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said early this afternoon on the floor of the U.S. Senate. "Most of those visits were to Las Vegas — a place he and I have spoken about lots of times. His staff, who came with him, loved Las Vegas." (Ahem.)

"I want everyone to understand that when President Obama at his press conference on Monday night said that there was a need for an economic recovery plan, he was very serious about that," Reid continued, per ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf. "But during the question and answer period, the president made remarks concerning trips to Las Vegas by financial services companies and their employees."

Reid was referring to the president’s comments that “we’re going to do something to strengthen the banking system. You are not going to be able to give out these big bonuses until you pay taxpayers back. You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime. There’s got to be some accountability and some responsibility.”

This prompted the mayor of Vegas, Oscar Goodman, to say, "He owes us an apology. He owes us a retraction. What is a better place, I say, for them to come here. For them to change their mind and go someplace else and to cancel at the suggestion of the president of the United States, that is outrageous.”

Reid tried to correct the record today.

"I’ve spoken at length with President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel and will speak to the president when I have the opportunity," Reid said. "Congressman Emanuel made it clear to me — and I know this is the case — that President Obama’s criticism was aimed at taxpayer funds for junkets. We gave a lot of money to the banks and they shouldn’t use that money for junkets whether it is to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or New York."

Continued the man from Searchlight, Nev., "Las Vegas is a place that people look on as a good place to go for timeout. I repeat that President Obama during the campaign was in Nevada twenty times. In fact, he just accepted my invitation to visit again this spring/early summer for the first time as our president."

And then, the inevitable public service announcement: "Nevada has lots of hotel rooms, but Las Vegas has more than 140,000, far more than any other place in the world," said Reid. "And we have millions of feet of visiting place, the largest convention center in the world, that is Las Vegas. As all Americans spend less as a result of our economic crisis it’s important to know that Las Vegas with the average daily hotel rate of only $119 is one of America’s most affordable cities to visit. That is a reason why nearly six million came came to Las Vegas to attend more than 20,000 meetings and conventions last year."

Etc., etc.

– jpt

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