Published February 18, 2010
Tensions between President Obama and Nevada elected officials over the president's anti-Sin City remarks escalated Thursday when Las Vegas's mayor refused an invitation to meet with Obama when he arrives in town, FoxNews.com has confirmed.
"I've got other things to do quite frankly for my constituents here in Las Vegas who rely on me to do the right thing as a mayor," Mayor Oscar Goodman told KTNV Action News.
Goodman was invited by the White House to meet the president on the tarmac when he arrives Thursday night and to the town hall event scheduled for Friday, Goodman spokesman Jace Radke told FoxNews.com, adding that the mayor would consider the invitation if Obama promised to apologize for his remarks.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Goodman is still smarting from comments Obama made suggesting that people saving money for college shouldn't blow in it Las Vegas.
Obama told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, in a letter that he wasn't saying anything negative about Las Vegas. But it was the second time since taking office that Obama singled out Las Vegas as a potential example of spending excessively.
The comments sparked a firestorm of criticism as the city struggles to find its footing amid a two-year meltdown of foreclosures, bankruptcies and unemployment.
Obama will be in Las Vegas to campaign for Reid, who is facing a daunting re-election bid.
Goodman has said that Obama is no friend to Vegas and would not be welcomed there if he visits.
"I'll do everything I can to give him the boot," Goodman said. "This president is a real slow learner."
Goodman told KTNV that he was a bit surprised to receive an invitation after his widely reported reaction to Obama's comments. But the invitation hasn't softened his anger.
"We are hurting, we have people in foreclosures, we have people having a hard time feeding their families and we can't stand to have a flippant statement made," Goodman told the news channel.
"I haven't heard an apology, I haven't heard a response. All I do is get invitations," he said.
Goodman and others are worried that Obama's words will discourage visitors from coming to Las Vegas and further depress the local economy, which is heavily dependent on the gambling industry.
Last year, Obama said during a town hall meeting in Elhart, Ind., that corporations shouldn't use federal bailout money for trips to Las Vegas, the Super Bowl or corporate jets. Tourism and casino officials said the comment hurt the city as companies canceled meetings in Las Vegas and rescheduled them elsewhere.
Obama later said during a May 2009 trip to Nellis Air Force Base outside of Las Vegas that it was nice to get out of Washington and "there's nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week."
Goodman said he thought Obama had a "psychological hang-up" of using Las Vegas as an example of excessive spending, and that his time, an apology wouldn't be enough.
"He has to step up right away and say, you know, he wasn't thinking," Goodman said. "Sometimes when he's not using his monitors and reading what he says, he doesn't think. And this is one of those times he didn't think, and he should straighten out the record because he's been here, he knows Las Vegas is a great place."
FoxNews.com's Stephen Clark and The Associated Press contributed to this report.