Entries in Las Vegas (23)


Obama Invokes Superstorm Sandy on the Campaign Trail

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) – After canceling campaign events for three days to oversee the response to the devastating storm, President Obama, back on the trail, told supporters in two key battleground states Thursday that Superstorm Sandy serves as a reminder that “when disaster strikes, we see America at its best.”

“All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away,” the president told 4,500 Nevadans at a rally in Las Vegas. “There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans, leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken, neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallying to rebuild, a spirit that says, In the end we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one nation.”

The storm provided Obama with a chance to showcase bipartisan leadership in the final run-up to the election and to cast himself as a take-charge commander-in-chief.

He spent Wednesday touring damaged areas with Republican New Jersey governor and prominent Romney-backer Chris Christie. In a show of bipartisanship, and a budding political “bromance,” the president and Christie have publicly praised the others’ preparation for and response to the hurricane.

On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama for a second term, citing climate change and saying Sandy “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.”

“We are awed by the destructive power of nature. We’re mourning those who’ve been lost. And we’re — we’re going to pledge to those whose lives have been turned upside down that we will not quit until we have given them all the help they need to recover,” the president said in Las Vegas.

As he flew to Nevada from his first post-Sandy campaign event in Wisconsin, the president called state and local officials responding to the storm from Air Force One.

“The thing that I repeated to them every time that I talk to them is, America will not forget them. We are going to make sure they get everything they need. We’re going to cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Does Vegas with Katy Perry and Trip to Bellagio

John Gurzinski/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Pop star Katy Perry and 13,000 Nevadans rocked together for President Obama under the stars at a midnight rally Wednesday in Las Vegas to close out the first day of Obama’s whirlwind two-day campaign blitz.

Perry, wearing a skin-tight, white dress designed as a ballot, urged the crowd to vote for Obama -- and vote early.  She sang a full set of her hits, complete with back-up dancers, full concert lighting and a digital backdrop that showcased pictures of Obama and his slogan “Forward.”

Obama hailed Perry as “just a wonderful young lady” and said at the top of his remarks that he had the honor of meeting her grandmother backstage -- and that she got some of her lipstick on him.

“Fortunately somebody wiped it off before Michelle saw it,” Obama said with a big grin.

Perry’s grandmother, who is 91 years old, watched Obama’s remarks from a chair in the middle of the concert stage as the singer stood nearby.  ABC News asked her about the kiss backstage after the event and she said it was “wonderful.”

The Vegas stop was the fourth of the day for Obama, who is on a 48-hour, 4,500-mile campaign tour through eight states.

“We are pulling an all-nighter.  No sleep.  And if you’re not gonna sleep, you might as well be in Vegas,” Obama said.

After the event, on his way to the airport, the president made a surprise visit to the Bellagio Hotel, where he greeted hundreds of hotel and casino workers crowded inside.

“Everyone here knows what it means to work hard,” he told them.  “You’re what makes Las Vegas run.  You’re what makes the strip run.”

“I need you guys to go out and vote now.  Don’t wait to vote,” Obama added.  “You gotta go cash in your chips now.”

The president flies overnight -- sleeping on Air Force One -- to Tampa, Fla., where he holds an event Thursday morning.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Biden Says GOP Has ‘Bullets … Aimed at You,’ Confuses Afghanistan and Iran

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(LAS VEGAS) -- Vice President Joe Biden used controversial language to describe the GOP agenda in an exchange with an audience member in Las Vegas Thursday.

Biden referenced Young Guns, the book the Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., co-wrote with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in his speech to union workers at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas Events Center.

“They have guns but no bullets,” a member of the crowd shouted.

“Unfortunately, the bullets are aimed at you,” Biden replied, pointing at the man who had spoken and prompting laughter from the audience.

The vice president added that Republicans were dividing the country by talking about “a culture of dependency.”

Shortly after the rally, Romney-Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck hit back at Biden.

“Today’s over-the-top rhetoric by Vice President Biden is disappointing, but not all that surprising,” Buck wrote in an emailed statement. “In the absence of a vision or plan to move the country forward, the vice president is left only with ugly political attacks beneath the dignity of the office he occupies.  Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will bring serious leadership to Washington that will focus on an agenda of job creation and economic growth that benefits all Americans.”

Biden Press Secretary Amy Dudley clarified the comment, saying in an emailed statement, “The Vice President’s exchange with an audience member today was clearly a reference to how the policies discussed in Paul Ryan’s book, Young Guns, would devastate the middle class. Given that people don’t assume that Paul Ryan is literally a gun, it probably makes sense not to assume that Joe Biden was speaking literally about bullets.”

During the foreign policy portion of his stump speech, Biden made a mistake in talking about the troops. Neither presidential candidate has ruled out military action against Iran to stop its production of nuclear weapons, but the vice president jumped the gun a bit, referring to U.S. veterans who supposedly fought in Iran.

“How many of you know someone who served in Iraq or Iran?” Biden asked the audience.

In reply, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid raised his hand.

“How many of you know someone who has been injured or lost in Iraq or Iran?” Biden asked again. “Well, let me tell you something. We owe … these families more than we can ever pay them.”

As Biden continued, it became clear that rather than referring to a secret war, he had mixed up “Iran” and “Afghanistan.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “so far you know when you’re in the theater in Iraq or Afghanistan, the vets can tell you this if you were there: When the military talks about someone who’s been killed they refer to them as a fallen angel.”

In response to a question about a potential war with Iran at the vice presidential debate last week, Biden answered, “It is not in my purview to talk about classified information, but we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians.”

[Read the Full Debate Transcript]

In Biden’s address Thursday, he expanded on President Obama’s comments that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plans for the economy were “sketchy” [watch that Obama speech here].

“Well I folks, I don’t think they were just sketchy,” Biden said. “I think they were Etch-a-Sketchy.”

For the second day in a row, Biden hammered away at Romney and Ryan’s views on women’s issues -- specifically, equal pay and abortion -- and said that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, would be in danger of being overturned under a Romney presidency.

“They don’t believe a woman has a right to control her own body. We disagree,” Biden said. “And after these debates, do you have any doubt who they will likely appoint to the Supreme Court of the United States? How much chance do you think Roe v. Wade will survive after four years of a Romney Supreme Court?”

Later in the day, Biden stopped by an elementary school, where he was swarmed by children eager to greet the vice president.

Turning to one of the members of faculty, Biden asked the students, “Is she a good teacher?” to which they shouted, “Yeah!”

“I tell you what,” Biden said. “I wish my constituents liked me as much.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Slams Congress for Failing to Act on Student Loans

KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Touting his efforts to make college more affordable, President Obama Thursday blasted lawmakers for failing to extend low-rate student loans.

“This is a no-brainer,” the president told students at a campaign-style rally at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I’ve just said to Congress: Get this done. Get it done...this is not complicated.”

Thursday’s event was the latest in the president’s push to boost support among young voters and contrast his education policies with those of congressional Republicans and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

Both the administration and Republican lawmakers want to prevent interest rates on a popular student loan from doubling at the end of the month, but remain deadlocked over how to pay for it.

Thursday, the president accused Republicans of stalling on the legislation and urged them to “get to work” and extend the low rates.

“The number one thing Congress should do for you...right now, is to stop interest rates from student loans from doubling at the end of the month,” he said to applause. “The clock is running out. You know, in today’s economy, higher education can’t be a luxury. It’s an economic necessity. Everybody should be able to afford it.”

Republicans, however, have launched their own offensive, accusing the president of playing politics with the issue and urging him to come back to Washington to “work with us” on a solution.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday charged the president with using “students as props in yet another speech calling on Congress to act.”

“What the president won’t tell these students is that the House has already acted and that Republicans in both chambers are ready to work on solutions as soon as the president can take the time,” he said on the Senate floor ahead of the president’s speech. “All the president has to do is to pick up his mail, choose one of the bipartisan proposals we laid out in a letter to him last week, proposals he’s already shown that he supports.”

GOP leaders outlined their proposals to pay for the bill’s estimated $6 billion price tag in their letter, but say the White House has not responded to their plan.

Late Thursday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., counter-offered the GOP proposals, and his letter was initially well-received by Republican leadership.

The president’s speech at UNLV Thursday marked his only “official event” during a two-day trip to California and Nevada that included five fundraisers and brought in over $5 million for his campaign coffers.

“Of all the thinly veiled campaign events the president has held this year, this one takes the cake,” a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said. “The president has three common-ground options to resolve this issue sitting on his desk, but he’s deliberately ignoring them to justify this taxpayer-funded rally. It’s truly remarkable.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Mentions US Birth Requirement Amid Fresh Birther Controversy

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- On the very day that Donald Trump’s birther comments have dominated coverage of the presidential race, Mitt Romney managed to slip in a reference during a speech to the U.S. birth requirement for anyone who wants to be president.

“I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town,” said Romney at a campaign event in Las Vegas, mentioning a private roundtable he held ahead of the event with local residents. “And he said you know I’d like to change the Constitution.”

“I’d like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States,” said Romney, recalling the business owner’s suggestion.

Then Romney seemed to agree with the suggestion.

“You see, then he or she would understand that the policies they’re putting in place have to encourage small business, make it easier for business to grow,” said Romney.

Romney is holding a fundraiser Tuesday night at Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas. Trump has spent the day standing by his assertion that there is no actual proof that President Obama was born in the United States.

Earlier this week, Romney did not outright condone Trump’s suggestion, telling reporters that he does not agree with everything his supporters say and vice versa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Reminds Voters of Obama’s Unflattering Vegas Remarks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS, Nev.) -- Mitt Romney, returning to the battleground state of Nevada for the first time since becoming the presumptive nominee, reminded a crowd there Tuesday of disparaging remarks made about Las Vegas by the president and promised that if he’s elected, he won’t shy away from traveling to Sin City.

“It was only three and a half, four years ago that Barack Obama was campaigning here and I know he raised a lot of people’s hopes,” said Romney, standing on the floor of a furniture company. “He was talking about making things better and he was going to bring the country together and I know he had a lot of you folks thinking things were going to get real good. And he’s been a big disappointment hasn’t he?”

“As a matter of fact he came into the White House and told people not to bother to go out to Las Vegas for conventions or meetings,” said Romney.

Romney was referring to a series of remarks made by President Obama over the past few years that have been less than flattering about Las Vegas. The first, in 2009, came when Obama was speaking about federal spending and said, “You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime.”

Then, in 2010, Obama during a town hall meeting warned about frivolous spending in Las Vegas, remarking, “You don’t blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

“That sure as heck didn’t help, did it?” said Romney Tuesday, to cheers from the crowd. “I’ll tell you if I become the next president of the United States, I’m going to remind people I’ve come to Las Vegas, I love it here. Come out to Las Vegas and spend some time.”

Romney, who won the state’s primary in February, has not been back in the state since and is there Tuesday primarily to rake in cash -- particularly at an evening fundraiser featuring Donald Trump. The event is expected to raise more than $2 million. Romney also met privately with casino giant Sheldon Adelson Tuesday afternoon at The Venetian Hotel. Adelson had previously backed Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign.

“It’s entirely possible that late in the evening of Nov. 6, the nation is going to be wondering what’s going to happen in Nevada,” said Romney, looking ahead to the fall election, as a man in the crowd screamed out, “You can do it!”

“Yeah, exactly, that’s a good strong voice,” Romney responded. “And I’m counting on you guys to go out and make sure that you elect a president who tells people to come to Las Vegas, not to stay away from Las Vegas. Who gets us on the track to have a strong and vibrant economy again.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former GSA Administrator Was in Va., Ore. During Vegas Conference

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Online records, hotel receipts and flight itineraries for former U.S. General Services Administration administrator Martha Johnson show that she was in Williamsburg, Va., and Portland, Ore., during the lavish Las Vegas conference that eventually led to her departure, not meeting with Solyndra company officials in California, as government testimony from a senior official at GSA claims.

Jeff Neely, a regional administrator now on administrative leave, testified in March 2011 that Johnson missed the 2010 Western Regions Conference to attend “a meeting with Salindra [sic],” according to ABC News’ Tuesday reporting on the transcripts.

But travel records show that Johnson flew coach on United Airlines from Washington National Airport, connecting through Chicago on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010.  Johnson left Portland on Oct. 29, flying non-stop to Washington-Dulles International Airport.  Hotel records also show that she stayed at a Courtyard Marriott. 

Johnson was in Portland to visit a GSA-sponsored construction project that taught women new job skills with stimulus money.  She was in Williamsburg for a leadership conference and panel discussion during the first two days of the Vegas conference.

GSA and Obama administration officials disputed Neely’s testimony on Tuesday, but provided no records showing Johnson’s whereabouts until Wednesday morning.

The agency spent about $823,000 on the 2010 convention for 300 employees, including thousands of dollars spent on items such as a commemorative coin set, a mind reader, a comedian and a clown.

Johnson resigned abruptly after the GSA inspector general presented findings of abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars from the conference.  Seven other officials have resigned, been fired or suspended in the wake of the scandal.

Multiple congressional hearings are scheduled to investigate the matter when Congress returns to session next week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich Calls Romney ‘Obama Lite,’ ‘Little Food Stamp’ and ‘Rich Guy’

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich took to the podium in a Las Vegas honky-tonk bar Friday to slam Mitt Romney.

Gingrich again criticized Romney for his controversial comments about poor people he made to CNN Wednesday.

“If you’re a genuine conservative, first of all, you don’t say that you don’t care about the poor,” Gingrich said. “My goal, the exact opposite of Gov. Romney, my goal is not to ignore or forget the poor. My goal is to turn the safety net into a trampoline to allow the poor to rise and be like the rest of us.”

Gingrich said Romney’s controversial comments about the poor were an “example of what we don’t want in a general election candidate.”

“So Gov. Romney [was] trying to recover from his boo-boo as the elite media did exactly what Obama will do this fall and kept replaying, ‘I don’t really care about the poor,’ which is, by the way, not a very clever thing for somebody who’s very wealthy to say,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich also took the opportunity to hit Romney on his connection with Wall Street billionaires, saying, “Wall Street isn’t Main Street.”

“We did not create Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so rich guys like Mitt Romney and Goldman Sachs could make money,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich compared Romney to President Obama several times in his speech, saying the Republican Party did not need to elect an “Obama lite.”

Gingrich also compared Romney and Obama on food stamps. Gingrich often calls Obama “the best food stamp president in history” as a part of his usual stump speech. But Friday, Gingrich added Romney into his rhetoric, calling him a “little food stamp.”

“We now know from Gov. Romney, he joins President Obama. Obama is big food stamp, he’s little food stamp -- but they both think food stamps are OK,” Gingrich said. “I don’t think food stamps are a future for America. They’re a necessary bridge back to getting a job and back to being independent of the government.”

Gingrich will continue to campaign Friday night at a church service in Las Vegas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio



Obama Tells ABC News: ‘I Second-Guess Constantly’  

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama Thursday acknowledged that he has made mistakes during his presidency but defended the steps his administration has taken to create jobs and improve the economy.

“I second-guess constantly...I make a mistake, you know, every hour, every day,” he told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, laughing. “There’re always things that you’re learning in the job. And I have no doubt that I’m a better president now than the day I took office just because you get more experience. But when you look at the broad outlines of what we did, had it not been for the steps we took our economy would be profoundly weaker than we are right now.”

The president was responding to a question by a Yahoo! user asking him if there’s something he learned about himself and wished he had done in the first three years.

Obama, who is in Las Vegas Thursday promoting his energy agenda, didn’t give specific examples. Instead, he cited the auto bailout and the Recovery Act as examples of his administration’s successes. Addressing criticism that the economy hasn’t grown very quickly in the last three years, Obama said he laid out the foundations that will position the country to continue growing.

“The auto industry, which has now created 160,000 jobs, and sees GM as the number-one automaker in the world again, that didn’t just happen by accident,” he said. “We had a little something to do with it, to help that industry restructure and save about a million jobs, that would’ve had ripple effects all across the country. The Recovery Act -- what, you know, Republicans referred to as the stimulus package, well, most economists -- almost every economist -- will tell you that had we not put that in place we could’ve tipped into a great depression."

“So I think when the body politic goes through a trauma as great as the one that we went through in 2008, 2009, then everybody I think is gonna be frustrated that we don’t recover.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Analysis: Perry Takes Off Gloves at Debate But Doesn’t Land KO Punch

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- For the first time since he got into the presidential race just over two months ago, Rick Perry finally looked comfortable on the debate stage Tuesday night.

Gone was the laconic and vaguely dazed Texas governor.  In his place, was a feisty candidate eager to engage Mitt Romney.  But, even as he took the gloves off, Perry didn’t land any knockout punches -- or even leave a bruise.

Meanwhile, it was Herman Cain who struggled throughout the night.  Cain, who normally shows up with a spring in his step and a quick quip at the ready, looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.  He’s learning, as Romney knows all too well, that it’s not so fun coming into a debate with a bulls-eye on your back.  The relentless assault on his 9-9-9 plan by his opponents and the media has clearly taken its toll.

The always-steady Romney did get a bit flustered at points by Perry’s more aggressive style -- even reaching out to touch Perry at one point in an attempt to get him to let him answer a question.

A number of times, Romney chastised his opponents for not following the “rules” of the debate.  That may work well in high school forensics, but in real life no one likes the kid who comes across as the know-it-all.  Remember, Romney’s biggest hurdle is not to convince voters he’s the smartest guy in the room, it’s to convince them that he’s real.

Even so, Romney proved once again that he’s the strongest debater in the bunch.  Romney found a way to turn almost every attack into a counter-punch.  He even found a way to undercut Perry on his greatest asset -- his record of job growth in the state -- saying that “almost half the jobs created in Texas were taken by illegal immigrants.”

Which brings us to the bigger issue for Perry: his inability to get on the economic/jobs message that his campaign was supposed to be all about.

When he got into this race he was the “jobs” governor, creator of the “Texas Miracle.”   Tuesday night, it wasn’t until one hour and 47 minutes into the debate that Perry finally mentioned that record.

In the end, Perry proved that he can compete on a debate stage, but he hasn’t proven his ability to dominate it.  For wary Perry donors and supporters, however, his performance on Tuesday night should make their job of selling the Texas governor a bit easier.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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