Las Vegas Mayor Wants Presidential Apology

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," February 11, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 taxpayers' dime.


ALEXIS GLICK, GUEST HOST: Don't mess with Vegas.

The mayor of Sin City is demanding an apology from President Obama for discouraging trips to the Strip on the taxpayers' dime.

Mayor Goodman joins me right now. Mayor, we just had an opportunity to hear what the president had to say the other day in Indiana. You were very upset about it. You wrote a letter to him. Walk us through some of what you wrote. I have a copy of the letter.

OSCAR GOODMAN, MAYOR OF LAS VEGAS: Well, basically, Ms. Glick, I told him that Las Vegas' lifeblood is the tourism industry. We spent years to build ourselves up to be the No. 1 tourist destination.

And, with a rather reckless, cavalier remark on the part of the president, which will not be discerned by the average person in the public to apply to those folks who are receiving money, but as a general proposition, the message was, don't come to Las Vegas.

And I believe that he has to straighten that out, because Las Vegas is a wonderful place for people to come to for many different purposes, and one of which is to have business meetings, conventions, to do serious business here.

• Video: Watch Alexis Glick's interview

We spent a lot of time to develop that. We have all the amenities in the world. And instead of that happening, folks are actually breaking agreements that they have with the various hotel casinos where they were going to have their business meetings...

GLICK: Right.

GOODMAN: ... paying — paying large sums of money to get out of those contracts, and then going to other cities, paying more for rooms and for food, because, right now, Vegas is bargain-basement.

And it just makes — it hurts me, because, when people are supposed to be creating jobs, when they cancel these kind of meetings, they are taking jobs away from the people who live in Las Vegas, from all walks of life, when we are having so much difficulty in meeting our mortgages and in feeding our families.

GLICK: Right.

You know, Mayor, I know you're referring to a Goldman Sachs conference that moved out west to San Francisco. I understand a Wells Fargo conference was supposed to occur there as well.

Translate it into dollars and cents here. What does this tourism industry mean for you?


GOODMAN: Millions and millions of dollars, billions of dollars over the course of a year of companies that come here, Fortune 500 companies that have serious business meetings, and, then, at the end of the day, are able to complete deals that they have negotiated during those business meetings.

And to take that away from us by virtue of a flippant remark or a remark that is not really perceived as being a meaningful one, is very, very damaging to us. It hurts us. And it is going to cost us jobs.


GLICK: So, has the White House or the president responded to your letter?

GOODMAN: I have heard from Senator Reid that he spoke to Rahm Emanuel, and that the president indicated that he did not mean to talk about business meetings that are taking place in Las Vegas, but rather junkets. But, as I say, when the president speaks, people listen. And all they here is, don't go to Las Vegas. He doesn't — it was not emphasized that he didn't want people who are getting stimulus money to come out here and spend taxpayer dollars. But the general proposition was, don't come to Las Vegas. And I was even told when I came over for this interview today...


GLICK: So, do you still want an apology?

GOODMAN: I sure do. I want a rectification of a wrong, absolutely

GLICK: And how is business? Is business getting worse? You said a couple of those conferences were canceled. But, when you look ahead, occupancy rates have still been at 86 percent. Are they strong or are they getting worse?

GOODMAN: I understand — I understand what you're saying.

But, even today, when I left my office, I heard that a major company that has had their convention here every three years canceled out. And one of their employees called my office and said, what did Vegas do in order to deserve this?

And if we have more of that, it's going to have a real detrimental effect on jobs and people making a living here.

GLICK: Mayor Oscar Goodman, thanks so much for taking the time. I hope things turn around for you.

GOODMAN: Thank you very much, Ms. Glick.

GLICK: All right.

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