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Las Vegas Mayor: Obama Should Apologize To Us

OSKAR GARCIA   02/10/09 10:29 PM ET   AP

Goodman

LAS VEGAS — Sin City's mayor wants President Barack Obama to apologize for saying companies shouldn't visit Las Vegas on the taxpayer's dime.

Oscar Goodman spoke after a regular scheduled meeting with tourism officials where he expressed concern that federal lawmakers might be discouraging travel to the city.

"What's a better place, as I say, than for them to come here," Goodman told KLAS-TV. "And to change their mind and to go someplace else and to cancel _ and at the suggestion of the president of the United States _ that's outrageous."

Obama made the remarks Monday during a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind., where the president traveled to muster public support for economic stimulus legislation.

"You can't get corporate jets, you can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime," Obama said.

A White House spokesman said it was looking into the mayor's comments and did not have immediate comment.

Goodman said Obama's remarks at the town hall meeting were unwarranted.

"That's outrageous, and he owes us an apology," he said. "He owes us a retraction."

Las Vegas tourism officials worry that increased scrutiny on business travel will discourage meetings and conventions _ business that would be crucial for the city already suffering economically. The number of visitors to Las Vegas was down 4.4 percent in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and visits in December alone declined nearly 11 percent.

Late Monday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it had moved a three-day conference from the Las Vegas Strip to San Francisco amid what the bank called a broad review of its activities. Goldman Sachs has accepted $10 billion in federal bailout funds.

Last week, Wells Fargo & Co., which received a $25 billion infusion, canceled a planned employee recognition conference in Las Vegas after an AP story reported on the trip and the bank received criticism from Capitol Hill that it was misusing the funds.

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Filed by Rachel Weiner  |