This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," May 26, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, Vegas, baby, right now, the president is heading there, only a few months after telling business big shots, do not, do not, do not even think of going there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 9, 2009)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.
And a big fund-raiser for one Harry Reid tonight, President Barack Obama the star attraction tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada, tonight, which has the governor of Nevada shaking his head, all but saying, the big guy is returning to the scene of his single-handed tourist crime, a city whose convention business ground to a halt after the prez ground out these words, "no Vegas," which is why Governor Jim Gibbons won't be welcoming the president when he arrives or meeting with him at all when he is there.
The governor joins me on the phone to explain.
Governor, you're not letting go of this, are you?
GOV. JIM GIBBONS (R), NEVADA: Not at bit, Neil.
It's — it's something that I think has offended a lot of Nevadans. It's — it's affected our economy here in Nevada. When you look at the statistics, you know, 400 meetings that were either conventions or business meetings have not come to Nevada. There are about 112,000 individuals who in that case wouldn't be here, and 225,000 room nights, $100 million lost economy.
CAVUTO: But is that the president's fault, Governor, or just a lousy economy, right?
GIBBONS: Well, but...
CAVUTO: A lot of people are cutting back on that sort of stuff.
GIBBONS: Well, I think you could say it's a little of both.
GIBBONS: You know, I — I'm shocked that a president would make this remark at all. He didn't say anything about Orlando, Honolulu, Chicago, or any other major convention city.
So, offering me a momentary handshake and a grin isn't going to change what he said. We need to sit down. We need to be able to talk about this. We need to be able to have him perhaps make an apology to the people of Nevada and encourage...
CAVUTO: Then, tell him that. I guess the argument the White House was raising today — and Robert Gibbs had a presser on this — or addressed the issue — talk to the big guy about it.
This is Robert Gibbs from just a little while ago, Governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would suggest that if the governor wants — has a specific point that he'd like to make to the president of the United States, he's landing in a few hours in Las Vegas, and, apparently, has been invited to make that case.
Again, I — I — I'm having trouble reconciling the actions of — of the governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: Fairly or not, Governor, they're making you out to be a baby. That's what it looked like.
GIBBONS: Well, Neil, let me — let me correct what he's saying. I have been at these arrivals of presidents, when they come in on their Air Force One airplanes. You're standing at the bottom of the ladder. You get about three seconds. You say, "Hello, Mr. President. Nice to have you in Nevada. Welcome here."
I'm not interested in that.
CAVUTO: Right, that's protocol, right, a governor greets a president of either party...
GIBBONS: Yes, a handshake and a hello...
CAVUTO: ... as the official greeter, right?
GIBBONS: Yes, a handshake and a hello from the president isn't going to correct this problem.
CAVUTO: So, if you were to have greeted him at the airport today when he arrives — and I know you're not going to do that — in those few seconds, what would you have said, like, "Hey, thanks a lot for nothing," or what?
GIBBONS: Well, I would have asked him, in light of the economic conditions of our state, for him to retract that reckless statement about Las Vegas and make a public statement supporting business and tourism and travel to Las Vegas.
You know, Las Vegas is a destination unlike any other in this country, but his comments have changed that.
CAVUTO: Well, I love — I love Las Vegas. I love your breakfast buffets. I tried to negotiate a settlement between you and the president so that maybe you could talk this over one of those huge buffets, but to little avail.
But, let me ask you, though, I mean, the president, really, when he had made these comments back in February, I think, Governor, was talking about those companies that were on the public dime, those companies that had been rescued by taxpayers, that it didn't look good that they be popping up to powwow in Vegas.
What do you make of that, that he was being very select in his wrath, if you will?
GIBBONS: Well, if he were select, then he should have made that very clear. In other words, to make a broad, generalized statement that he did make may not have been his intent, but the intent had the effect of being very, very harmful to Nevada, and that's what we need to correct.
We need to get out there a public statement encouraging travel to Nevada and specifically to Las Vegas to make up for this.
You know, he promised change. Well, he's changed Nevada. You know, he — our unemployment is now higher, and we're seeing companies who do not want the scrutiny of the federal government on them making decisions about whether or not they come to Las Vegas.
That's unconscionable. That's what I am trying to change.
CAVUTO: But you might be getting under his skin or at least the White House officials' skin, because they have been trying to clarify that they were meaning no offense to Las Vegas, that they were meaning a very big offense to those on the public dole doing — gallivanting off to anything.
CAVUTO: You're saying that he was very select by going after Vegas, and not applying the same to Orlando or any — any other tourist destination, right?
GIBBONS: Precisely, Neil. That's exactly what I'm saying.
He selectively, in his language, mentioned Las Vegas. He didn't say Orlando. He didn't say Honolulu. He certainly didn't say Chicago, Illinois, all of which are major convention cities.
Governor, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
GIBBONS: Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, Governor Gibbons.
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