Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2019

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Thomas & Mack Turns 25:

No. 22: Talking politics

2004 Republican, Democratic rallies pack Thomas & Mack

Beyond the Sun

Editor's Note: In conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Thomas & Mack Center's opening on Nov. 21, 1983, the Sun is celebrating the building's colorful history with a top 25 countdown - to No. 1 on Nov. 21, 2008 - of the biggest events held inside the arena located on UNLV's campus.

Not everything held in the Thomas & Mack center, has been basketball games and rock concerts. Nor monster truck pulls or big bulls.

Sometimes, things have gotten downright political. Stump speeches and Western-based agendas have pushed past “Tark” and taken over the Thomas & Mack floor to the tune of more than 10,000 people.

This past fall saw some of the most political activity in the Silver State’s history at adjoining Cox Pavilion with a CNN debate thrusting Las Vegas into the election spotlight with the state’s early caucus and swing votes.

While plenty of other dignitaries have managed to capture a Thomas & Mack crowd’s conscience, including a stirring speech from Mikhail Gorbachev, the 2004 Republican and Democratic rallies take the top spot.

President George Bush cracked up a large contingent of Republican supporters with a couple of quips during a Republican National Committee Rally on Oct. 14, 2004.

“They know my blunt ways of speaking. I get that from Mom. They know I sometimes mangle the English language. I get that from Dad,” Bush said. “Americans also know that I will tell you exactly what I am going to do, and I'll keep my word.”

The Democrats top man at the time, John Kerry, not to be outdone, voiced his displeasure on the hot topic of Yucca Mountain during his "Believe in America" tour in August that year, which drew nearly 15,000 people to the Thomas & Mack Center.

“When I'm president of the United States, I'll tell you about Yucca Mountain: Not on my watch,” Kerry said.

“My votes show you that this is not an election campaign promise, and (Sen.) Harry Reid will tell you that.”

Bush, of course, won the election, and carried the state of Nevada in his narrow victory — proving that events other than those of the sporting or music variety continue to have a place in the venerable arena on UNLV’s campus.

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