Friday, June 18, 2004 | 6:47 a.m.
RENO -- While waiting for President Bush to arrive to give a campaign speech, Republican state elective officials tried to warm up the crowd, with one politician comparing Democrat Sen. John Kerry to a Nevada prostitute.
Secretary of State Dean Heller criticized Kerry, the expected Democratic nominee, for changing his positions. "Depending on the time of day, John Kerry changes his position more often than a Nevada prostitute," Heller said.
The comment drew cheers and some laughter from the estimated 9,700 people who crowded the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to hear Bush's 40-minute campaign speech.
The elected officials and special guests were all seated behind Bush, in front of a backdrop banner that read "America -- Safer, Stronger, Better."
Sprinkled among the crowd were state GOP legislators, gaming executives, state and local government employees and lobbyists who ply their trade at the Nevada Legislature.
The people were boisterous, repeatedly cheering and yelling "Four More Years," before Bush arrived, about 30 minutes late.
State Treasurer Brian Krolicki got the biggest applause when he said that Congress must make the federal tax cut permanent.
Others who urged the re-election of Bush were Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt and Controller Kathy Augustine.
State Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, a reverend, gave the invocation, urging God to give Bush "divine wisdom."
Those in attendance were crowded close together. Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who was the master of ceremonies, quipped, "If you're going to pass out, get permission from your neighbor."
Gov. Kenny Guinn and Attorney General Brian Sandoval, co-chairman of the campaign in Nevada to re-elect Bush, met the president at the airport and rode in his limousine to the convention center.
Guinn said the first topic he brought up was jobs. The governor told the president there has been a gain of 38,000 new jobs in Nevada in the past year and that leads the nation.
Guinn and Sandoval both talked to the president about Yucca Mountain. "We told him we are firmly committed" to following through on the court challenge to Bush selecting Yucca Mountain, Guinn said.
"He (Bush) said he understood that and he had no problem whatsoever," Guinn said.
The governor said he was not surprised Bush did not mention it to a Nevada audience because it has "been talked over and over now for the last two years."
"I don't think it (Yucca Mountain) is the biggest issue from the latest poll I've seen," Guinn said. "It puts security number one and jobs number two. And then it starts spreading out and Yucca comes down quite a ways on that list."
"Yucca Mountain is one issue for him and it's one issue for us. We've had that issue for 20 years," Guinn said.
Sandoval said despite his disagreement with Bush on Yucca Mountain, he believes Bush to "be the best person for the job."