Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 | 1:46 p.m.
Sen. Harry Reid defended the Democratic Party’s agenda and President Obama at two events this morning hours before Obama’s arrival in Las Vegas.
Reid spoke to more than 150 people at a Latino Summit held at UNLV and then rushed to North Las Vegas to speak at a campaign rally at Southern Nevada Paving.
At both events, Reid focused on the major issues he hopes to address in the Senate: heath care reform, job creation and economic recovery.
He said Hispanics are more likely to be uninsured than other groups and even those who are insured are sometimes out to dry by insurance companies.
“We need to do something about health care reform and we are going to do something about heath care reform,” he said.
He defended last year’s stimulus package and said more action is needed.
“We created lots of jobs here in Nevada, but not nearly enough,” he said. “It’s really difficult to explain to someone today that what we did stopped things from getting worse. That’s hard to explain to someone who lost their job or is afraid they’re going to lose their job or their home is going to be taken away.”
The next set of bills will help address that problem, he said, by encouraging companies to hire and creating more construction jobs, without raising taxes.
“This package of bills that we’re going to vote on Monday night at 5:30 doesn’t cost a penny. It cuts taxes and creates jobs,” he said. “How do you beat a deal like that?”
The proposed highway bill alone would provide a million jobs across the country, he estimated, with about 20,000 of those jobs in Nevada.
Reid only briefly touched on immigration reform, saying he thinks it is needed, but after his speech he told reporters that his party has been active in trying to pass immigration reform.
“I have, as the leader, spent more time on immigration reform in the Senate during the last Congress than on any other issue,” he said. “We’ve done our job. We’re just waiting for a little help from the Republicans and that’s why all the public opinion polls all around the country show that about 75 percent of Hispanics support Democrats, because the Republicans have turned their backs on them.”
Reid also took advantage of opportunities to defend Obama, while others – most vocally, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman – have called for Obama to apologize for his remarks about Las Vegas.
“The president loves Las Vegas, he has written me a letter saying he is sorry he said things,” Reid said. “We all say things that don’t turn out just right, I can vouch for that. But the fact is, he loves Las Vegas, his staff loves Las Vegas and I think the fact that he is meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and the convention authority speaks well of how they feel about a visit from him.”
Obama is scheduled to arrive at McCarran International Airport about 6 p.m. to attend a fundraiser this evening for the Democratic National Committee, a public event Friday at Green Valley High School and a private meeting at Aria before leaving Friday afternoon.