Vegas Mayor: Obama Owes Apology for “Skip the Strip” Quip

LAS VEGASLas Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said Tuesday that he wants an apology from President Obama for saying companies shouldn't visit Sin City on the taxpayer's dime.

The mayor was reacting after hearing remarks Obama made 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.

Goodman said Obama's comments were unwarranted.

"That's outrageous, and he owes us an apology," Goodman said in an interview with KLAS-TV after attending a regularly scheduled meeting with Las Vegas tourism officials. "He owes us a retraction."

Goodman made his comments after expressing concern during the meeting 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. "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."

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

Goodman drafted a letter to Obama about the president's remarks and would not comment further until Obama receives it, spokesman David Riggleman said.

The comments by both politicians come as tourism officials worry that increased scrutiny on business travel will discourage meetings and conventions in Las Vegas, crucial for the city already reeling from the economic downturn. The number of visitors to Las Vegas was down 4.4 percent in 2008 compared with a year earlier, and visitation declined nearly 11 percent in December from the same month a year ago.

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.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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