LAS VEGAS – Hundreds of protesters greeted Paul Ryan as he met with a small group of Nevada donors including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian hotel.
Protesters gathered outside the casino on Tuesday and chanted “Paul Ryan go home” and waved signs that read, “Romney/Ryan Road to Ruin, “Paul Ryan Hustling for the One Percent” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like?”
The group was mostly made of labor organizations including the American Federation of Government Employees who were in Las Vegas for a conference. They joined up with local labor chapters to protest, including members of the AFL-CIO.
According to donors leaving the event, there were about 40 people gathered. Earlier Tuesday, a Ryan aide said the soiree, called a Nevada Finance Leadership Event was not a fundraiser because no tickets were sold and guests did not pay to attend. A female donor leaving, who did not want to be identified, said the meeting was to discuss how to raise money for the campaign.
As donors left they were exceptionally press shy with one woman confirming that Ryan did address the crowd calling his speech, “wonderful.” A young man, much younger than most of the donors leaving, described it as a “good event.”
Besides Adelson and Ryan, former senate candidate Sue Lowden was also slated to attend.
Romney fundraisers in public places, like a hotel as opposed to a private home, are open to a pooled press contingent. This evening’s event was closed to the press because the campaign described the meeting as a finance event and not a fundraiser.
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have given at least $10 million to the pro-Romney SuperPAC Restore Our Future. They also gave $20 million to a SuperPAC supporting Newt Gingrich during the primary campaign. Adelson has vowed to spend $100 million to defeat President Obama. He recently accompanied Romney on his overseas trip to Israel.
The Obama campaign even tried to fundraise off of Ryan’s meeting with Adelson sending out at an e mail to supporters urging them to open their wallet because Ryan is “making a pilgrimage” to “kiss the ring of Sheldon Adelson.”
Ryan also addressed a boisterous group at an afternoon rally, also in Las Vegas, Tuesday afternoon telling the crowd they are being given a “clear contrast” and while the president only offers “division and demagoguery,” he and Romney bring “optimism and opportunity.”
“It’s been really exciting, it’s been an exciting few days to get put on the ticket with Gov. Mitt Romney because we feel that we owe you, our fellow citizens, a very clear choice, and a very clear contrast,” Ryan said at a local high school. “You know why? ‘Cause it’s not going the right direction. The president is putting us on the wrong path and we’re going to fix this thing and get America back on track. This election is going to fly by the next 80 or so days but what you’re going to see and what we’re now seeing from the president is nothing more than division and demagoguery. We are going to offer optimism and opportunity.”