Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Details of Obombas visit to Nevada emerging


President Barack Obama will hold a public "town hall" meeting at a high school, tout job creation in a speech at CityCenter and attend a $1 million Democratic fundraiser in a visit this week that comes after he twice dissed Las Vegas as a place not to spend money during economic hard times.

Obama's Southern Nevada swing Thursday and Friday is aimed partly at boosting the re-election chances of Sen. Harry Reid. The Democratic Senate majority leader's political future is in jeopardy after leading the stalled White House effort in Congress to pass health care reform.

The president also may make a personal apology to Las Vegans for using the city as a punching bag in comments he made this month and a year ago about how Americans and corporations looking to tighten their belts should avoid dumping dollars into Las Vegas's visitor-dependent economy.

"I do believe you will see an apology come out of his lips," said Mark Peplowski, a political science professor at the College of Southern Nevada. "He'll say twice I said something about Las Vegas and twice I got sent to the principal's office. But then he'll probably say something more serious to apologize."

The White House planned Tuesday to release details of Obama's visit, but officials familiar with the tentative plans confirmed the broad outlines of what he's expected to do.

Obama is scheduled to arrive Thursday evening and attend a closed fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the Southern Highlands home of George Maloof, owner of the Palms hotel and casino where Paris Hilton and other young stars and Hollywood elite like to party. Southern Highlands is a wealthy gated community in the far south valley, just west of Interstate 15.

About 45 people are invited to the fundraiser with donors asked to pay up to $30,000 a head, with the goal of raising at least $1 million for the DNC.

Friday morning, Obama is expected to hold a town hall meeting at Green Valley High School.

Then later Friday, the president – with Reid in tow – is scheduled to meet with workers at CityCenter, the $8.4 billion project that opened in December as the greatest hope for bringing Las Vegas back from an economic downturn that's created 13 percent unemployment.

A presidential speech to business leaders also is planned inside the 61-story Aria, the hotel-casino centerpiece of the project, which is expected to create 12,000 permanent jobs. Reid and the MGM Mirage said the senator helped salvage CityCenter by calling banks to encourage continued financing.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.


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