LAS VEGAS (AP) - The mayor of Las Vegas told President Barack
Obama in a letter that his comments about companies using taxpayer
money to visit Sin City are harmful to the tourist-dependent
But Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman didn't ask for an apology and
a retraction in the letter obtained Wednesday by The Associated
Press, as he did earlier in a television interview.
"Mr. President, I understand the enormous burden you carry in
dealing with the worst economy since the Great Depression,"
Goodman wrote in a letter sent late Tuesday.
"I also understand the need for accountability, but your
comments are harmful to the meetings and convention industry as a
whole and Las Vegas specifically," he said.
Mr. Obama said during a town hall meeting this week in Indiana that
companies shouldn't take trips to Las Vegas or go to the Super Bowl
at taxpayers' expense.
On Tuesday, an agitated Goodman worried that federal lawmakers
might be discouraging travel to the city and singled out the
president for criticism.
"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."
Goodman said Mr. Obama's remarks were unwarranted.
"He owes us an apology," Goodman said. "He owes us a
President Obama made the remarks while answering a question during a town hall meeting 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
A White House spokesman has said it was looking into the mayor's
comments and did not have immediate comment.
Las Vegas tourism officials worry that increased scrutiny on
business travel will discourage meetings and conventions - business
that is 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.
In the past two weeks, two firms that have received a combined
$35 billion in bailout money pulled out of large events in Las
Vegas at the last minute.