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Obama praises Reid at Vegas fundraiser

President speaks at Caesars Palace event for Senate majority leader

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Leila Navidi

President Barack Obama speaks during “The Good Fight: A Tribute To Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Tuesday.

Updated Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | 10:25 p.m.

Obama speaks at Caesars

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Obama, Reid at Caesars (5-26-2009)

President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid embrace during a fundraiser at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Obama arrives in Las Vegas

President Barack Obama salutes as he arrives at McCarran International Airport Tuesday. Launch slideshow »

Obama Arrives in Las Vegas

President Barack Obama arrived at McCarran International Airport Tuesday afternoon for a two-day stay in Las Vegas.

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On his first visit to Nevada since the November election, President Barack Obama played Fundraiser in Chief Tuesday night, delivering a 20-minute speech to a sold-out crowd at Caesars Palace, all for the benefit of Sen. Harry Reid.

The event was expected to raise about $2 million for the Senate majority leader’s campaign.

Reid is up for re-election in 2010 and has proved a pivotal partner in helping Obama shepherd his agenda through Congress in the administration’s first 100 days. And, even with Democratic majorities, the president will need Reid to corral a politically diverse caucus as Obama tackles the more difficult terrain of energy policy and health care reform.

Indeed, that’s the case the president made Tuesday night, making reference to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s book about life in the chamber, titled “Herding Cats.”

“The last few years Harry has done an extraordinary job as the leader of the U.S. Senate, and that’s not easy,” Obama said. “Harry has consistently fought on those issues that matter not just to Democrats but to middle class families. Good jobs. Health care. Clean energy. He makes decisions and chooses battles based on the values he was raised with in Searchlight, Nev. That’s why we need to keep Harry Reid exactly where he belongs.”

Polls show a tough election environment for Reid. His approval rating sits at 38 percent. More troubling though, almost half of those surveyed in a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week said they would like to replace him. That said, Republicans have yet to find a challenger and Reid continues to build a war chest that he says will grow to $25 million.

Obama thanked the at-times raucous crowd for its help on his campaign but said his election marked “not the victory we sought, but the opportunity to make change.”

He touted the economic recovery package, the authorization of stem cell research, the expansion of children’s health insurance, equal pay legislation and consumer protections regarding “abusive fees” from credit card companies. He then received a standing ovation for his mention of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

“This is a woman who will bring more experience than any woman on the Supreme Court,” Obama said. “Nobody can say she’s not qualified to be on the Supreme Court.”

With Sotomayor’s nomination, “America will take another important step in realizing its image, equal justice under the law. I’m inspired by her, and I know that Harry Reid and others in the Senate will make sure she’s confirmed.”

Still, when it comes to his administration’s agenda, Obama said he was far from satisfied.

“We have come a long way. We see light on the horizon. But we’ve got a long journey ahead,” he said. “That’s why you are here tonight. I know you’re going to be at the polls next November. I know you’ll be making those phone calls and knocking on those doors, so Harry Reid can continue his service to this great state. That’s why I’m here tonight. I can't bring the change I promised all by myself. I need partners in Congress, leaders who are willing to make a difference. Right now, more than ever before, we need their help.”

Obama promised great strides in education and renewable energy and reiterated his campaign pledge to enact health care reform by the end of the year.

He implored the crowd: “Stand with me. And stand with Harry Reid.”

“I know that years from now we will look back on this time and this moment and say that’s when the American people came together and reclaimed our future, to write the next great chapter of the American story.”

The president will visit Nellis Air Force Base on Wednesday to discuss the economic recovery package.

Prepared remarks

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