Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 | 5:22 p.m.
Shopping carts rattled to a halt Monday afternoon as wide-eyed grocery shoppers at Cardenas spotted Sen. Harry Reid walking the aisles and sampling a variety of foods.
The U.S. Senate majority leader took a 30-minute supermarket tour that doubled as an excuse to tout President Barack Obama’s policies and bring up Mitt Romney’s taxes again while the Republican Party is focused on its national convention in Tampa, Fla.
After nibbling on pork rinds, red gelatin, pork tacos and other fare, Reid conducted a short news conference at the front of the store, 4700 Meadows Lane.
Flanked by neatly stacked assortments of apples, honeydew melons, pineapples and mangoes, Reid, D-Nevada, shared the story of Jesus Cardenas, who came to the United States in 1957 under the Bracero temporary workers program. After opening his first supermarket in California in 1979, Cardenas now has more than 25 stores in California and Nevada.
“We’re always looking for great American success stories. Here’s one,” Reid said of the chain of supermarkets, which includes three branches in Las Vegas that employee approximately 500 people. “This is a remarkable success story.”
Obama’s campaign touted Cardenas as an example of the president’s polices helping small businesses. One of those was the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, an incentive for private businesses to hire new employees from a range of groups that traditionally have higher rates of unemployment, including veterans, those living below the poverty line and at-risk youths.
Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has touted his experience running the private equity firm Bain Capital as reason why he is better equipped to resuscitate the flagging economy than Obama, and those helping the former Massachusetts governor in his campaign are trumpeting his business acumen.
“(I) hope people understand who Mitt Romney is,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Because his business career has been well documented and his success is extraordinary in the business realm, but he's so much more than that. He was a successful governor. The job he did at the Olympics in Salt Lake City was extraordinary by all accounts. “
Prompted by the media, Reid reiterated his call for Romney to release more of his past federal tax returns, saying he has provided detailed accounts of his own finances and it was what Romney’s father did when he ran for president. So far, Romney, a multimillionaire, has resisted releasing more than his 2010 federal tax return and a partial 2011 tax return. Romney’s father, when he ran for president in the 1960s, released 12 years of his tax returns. Obama has released a dozen years of his tax returns.
Reid last month said a source close to Bain told him Romney had not paid any taxes for a 10-year period. The comment unleashed a torrent of criticism upon Reid from Romney’s supporters.
“The issue is not Harry Reid; the issue is Mitt Romney. I’m not running for president,” Reid said.
Asked to comment on the Republican Party in general in light of the GOP convention this week, Reid said the party had become obstructionist.
“The way to get things done is compromise,” said Reid, who mentioned votes on the Dream Act on which he received no Republican support. “That’s something they’ve forgotten.”
Reid, who bought two cakes for the Obama campaign staff and his own staff, stopped during his supermarket tour to shake hands, take pictures and chat with several shoppers.
Marlene Marcus and Lois Nolen, who were shopping together, stopped Reid to offer their support and foreshadowed his latter comments in the news conference.
“The Republicans have done everything they can from day one to try and make the president fail,” Nolen said. “They’ve attacked him, and refused to compromise.”
Marcus nodded at her friend’s words.
“That’s why we support (Senate candidate) Shelley Berkley,” Marcus said. “We need more Democrats in Congress.”