Last year, during a town-hall event in Elkhart, Indiana, President Obama ruffled some Nevadan feathers by warning that bailed out executives shouldn't go to Las Vegas for retreats; yesterday, he was at it again, telling his audience at an event in New Hampshire that, during a recession, "you don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
Here's the full quote, from the White House transcript:
Responsible families don't do their budgets the way the federal government does. Right? When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It's time your government did the same. (Applause.)
Except that blown gambling money is good for Vegas, and for Nevada's state revenues...and for the embattled Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), who is facing a dismal reelection picture back home.
After Obama's first Vegas jab, about a year ago, Mayor Oscar Goodman (D) demanded an apology, and Reid reassured everyone in a Senate floor speech that he had spoken with Rahm Emanuel about it, and that the comments were more about executives than Vegas...then Reid proceeded to trumpet low Vegas hotel rates in the Senate chamber.
Now, Goodman (who has since left the Democratic Party to become an independent) is all over Obama again, saying that "an apology won't be acceptable this time...
"I want to assure you when he comes I will do everything I can to give him the boot back to Washington and to visit his failures back there," Goodman said. Obama will reportedly campaign for Reid in Nevada this month.
Reid, meanwhile, stuck up for his home state, issuing a statement that he had asked the president to "lay off" Vegas.
Obama offered a semi-apology to Reid, in the form of a letter saying:
I hope you know that during my Town Hall today, I wasn't saying anything negative about Las Vegas. I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun. There is no place better to have fun than Vegas, one of our country's great destinations. I have always enjoyed my visits, look forward to visiting in a few weeks, and hope folks will visit in record numbers this year.
Such are the trappings of constituent politics.
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