Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2015

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Las Vegas still ‘reeling’ from Obama comments, says mayor

Goodman still wants Obama to give major positive endorsement of Las Vegas

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Oscar Goodman

When President Barack Obama arrives Friday in Las Vegas, don't expect Mayor Oscar Goodman to be on the tarmac, greeting him with his signature smile, showgirls and a martini.

"No. I have prior obligations," Goodman told reporters brusquely today at his weekly press conference when asked if he would attend Friday's major Democratic Party campaign rally for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Goodman, who has cultivated an image of himself as the "happiest mayor in the universe" indicated to reporters Thursday that he's still grumpy with the president.

The bad blood is because Obama hasn't done enough to turn around the economic impacts of two negative statements about Las Vegas, Goodman said.

The first came on Feb. 9, 2009, at a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind., when Obama said executives of failing financial institutions should use federal bailout money responsibly and that "you can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime."

Obama later made amends, returning to Las Vegas in May 2009 and said some niceties about the city.

Then, on Feb. 2 of this year, the president made a remark to a New Hampshire audience that "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."

Because of that remark, Goodman boycotted the president's last trip to Las Vegas on Feb. 19. But Goodman said Obama made amends that day by telling the business leaders from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, "Let me set the record straight: I love Las Vegas."

However, last month, Goodman told reporters that he recently learned that Obama's previous remarks had cost the city at least 200 convention-goers.

"I don't think the explanation has been been what I had wanted it to be," Goodman said Thursday. "I still feel that we're reeling from his comments."

"I wish that once and for all he'd have the definitive statement that Las Vegas is a great place to do serious business at meetings and at conventions. And when you're through doing your serious work, go out and have a good time and really enjoy 'what happens here staying here.'

"That's what I'd like to hear. Once I hear that, I'll smile. But not until then."

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