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May 27, 2015

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Mayor: Obama statements still hurting Las Vegas convention business

Remarks cost city about 200 convention-goers recently, Goodman said

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Oscar Goodman

Could another spat be in the works between President Obama and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman?

Goodman indicated today that Obama's past remarks about Las Vegas are continuing to keep some potential convention business away and he might talk to the president about it before he visits in October.

"I did have an interesting discussion when I spoke at the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators," Goodman told reporters Thursday during his weekly news conference.

"They had about 500 people from all over the world come here for that particular convention," he said. "They indicated to me they thought they would have had 200 more but for the Obama statement."

The president made two statements that angered the mayor.

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, almost a year later, on Feb. 2 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."

Goodman said that his discussion recently with the financial crimes investigators convention organizers showed him that the president's negative remarks from 2009 and this year were still having negative effects on Las Vegas.

"They felt these 200 people stayed away as the result of his position," Goodman said. "And that bothered me because I was hoping that that remark would no longer be hurting us. But apparently it's still out there."

Goodman said he would try to get the message to the president when he comes to Las Vegas on Oct. 22 for a major Democratic Party rally before the Nov. 2 midterm elections .

"You know, he's always very nice about us when he's here, talking to us. We know how good we are," Goodman said. "But I hope that he tells the rest of the world that this is a great place to have a serious meeting like a financial crimes meeting and to have a good time after the meeting's over. That's the message I really want him to convey."

Goodman said he doesn't have any plans yet to meet with the president in October.

"But I would like to get a commitment that he would at least do that. If he does that, I will embrace him," Goodman said. "Anything short of that is unacceptable."

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