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Obama lands in Las Vegas for second visit of presidency

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Leila Navidi

President Barack Obama exits Air Force One after arriving at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Updated Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 | 8:23 p.m.

President Obama Arrives in Las Vegas

President Barack Obama exits Air Force One after arriving at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Thursday. Launch slideshow »

Line for Obama tickets

People wait in line Thursday, February 18, 2010 to get tickets to the President Barack Obama's Friday town hall meeting at Green Valley High School in Henderson. Launch slideshow »

Obama and Reid

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, is congratulated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, center, after signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 2009. Launch slideshow »

President Barack Obama touched down at McCarran International Airport at 6:40 p.m. Thursday, marking his second visit to Las Vegas during his presidency.

U.S. Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus were at the airport and greeted the president as he got off Air Force One.

Obama made a stop at the Bellagio, then will be attending a private fundraiser this evening for the Democratic National Committee at the home of Palms owner George Maloof. The fundraiser is expected to raise $1 million for the committee.

The president will stay overnight in Las Vegas and hold a town hall meeting at 10 a.m. Friday at Green Valley High School.

Free tickets for the town hall were available today from the school’s football box office, where the line stretched around the block.

Henderson resident Caryn Aspeland said she arrived Thursday afternoon after school let out to get tickets but didn’t expect the line to be so long.

“I thought by getting here at 2:15 p.m. I would be in the parking lot area, but not around the block,” she said. “I’m impressed that the young people did show up.”

Green Valley High School students stood in line and cheered as cars passed and honked their horns. Some wore Obama T-shirts, while others displayed presidential pins and buttons.

Steve Jennings, 50, of Las Vegas said his 16-year-old daughter, Molly, attends Green Valley High School and wanted to stand in line to get a ticket for her uncle, who is recovering from cancer and doesn’t have the strength to stand in line himself.

“He’s an Obama supporter and wouldn’t mind seeing him,” Jennings said.

Aspeland said she hopes Obama will have something positive to say about the economy and Las Vegas, referring to a comment the president made earlier this month that “you don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.”

“I personally don’t need an apology (for the Vegas comment), but I know a lot of people do,” she said.

Jennings said people took what the president said out of context.

“I don’t think the comments were meant to hurt Vegas,” he said. “They were just used as an example. I think it’s been taken out of context to make it sound worse than it really is.”

After the Green Valley High event, Obama will speak at noon to the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority at CityCenter’s Aria resort.

The president is scheduled to leave McCarran on Air Force One shortly after 1 p.m. Friday.

While Obama is in town, some Las Vegas air space will be restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration and closed to sightseeing air tours, gliders, parachutes and balloons. The FAA says restrictions will be in place from 5:45 p.m. Thursday to 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman didn't greet Obama and wasn't expected to attend any of the presidential events. He has called on the president to apologize for the comments he made about spending money in the city.

Obama’s first trip to Las Vegas during his presidency was May 26, 2009, when he raised about $2 million for the campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at Caesars Palace.

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