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Obama touts jobs bill while in Las Vegas for day of fundraising, campaigning

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Sam Morris

After delivering a speech, President Barack Obama greets supporters Monday, Oct. 24, 2011. Obama spoke about the American Jobs Act and announced a housing initiative to help homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages refinance their homes.

Updated Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 | 3:42 p.m.

Obama Speaks on Jobs and Housing

President Barack Obama walks with, from left, Jose Bonilla, Lissette Bonilla and their children Margarita Bonilla, Franco Bonilla and Mario Bonilla before Obama spoke about the American Jobs Act on Oct. 24, 2011, in Las Vegas. Obama also announced a housing initiative to help homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages refinance their homes. Launch slideshow »

Obama arrives in Las Vegas

Air Force One comes in for a landing at McCarran International Airport Monday Oct. 24, 2011. Launch slideshow »

President Barack Obama stopped in Las Vegas today, fundraising and campaigning in a state that helped elect him two years ago but has continued to suffer economically despite his efforts to address the recession.

His visit included a stop at the Bellagio for a fundraiser and a visit to an East Las Vegas neighborhood, one of the many areas hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

The president's visit coincided with his administration's announcement of an expansion of a federal program to aid homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. The proposal would expand the program to aid the hardest-hit homeowners.

Despite unveiling that plan today, the president didn’t spend much time discussing it. Instead, he focused on his jobs bill, which is struggling to gain support in Congress.

"We've got huge challenges in places like Nevada, we've got a jobs bill out there that is paid for and addresses those challenges, the question is, why despite all the support, despite all the experts who say this jobs bill couldn't come at a more important time...why have Republicans in Washington said no? They keep voting against it."

Obama was in Las Vegas for just over three hours. Air Force One landed at McCarran International Airport about noon and took off just after 3 p.m.

Upon arriving, Obama was greeted by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

Goodman's presence appeared to be a conciliatory gesture. Her predecessor and husband, Mayor Oscar Goodman, had been sharply critical of Obama's remarks last year about Las Vegas and the recession (“You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college”).

After a brief conversation the two shook hands with about two dozen people gathered to meet the president.

Goodman said later that she told Obama: "In Nevada, we know you love it here, you come back again and again, but you need to tell the world how wonderful we are." Of Obama's negative comments about Las Vegas, she said: "That's past. I'm new in office even though I'm hooked at the hip with my husband."

He received two standing ovations during remarks to the crowd — one when he discussed ending the war in Iraq and another when he mentioned ending the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

He also noted the economic troubles in Las Vegas and said he’s is struggling to gather support for his plans to turn around the economy.

"The most urgent challenge that we face right now is to get our economy to grow faster. I know it, the people of Nevada know it, and I think most Americans understand that the problem we face didn't happen over night,” the president said. "What people don't understand though is why some elected officials in Washington don't share the same sense of urgency that people all around the country are.

"Your senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, he's been fighting nonstop to help get the economy going but he's not getting some help from some members of the Nevada delegation, so we need them to get their act together. … The only way we can put 100s of thousands of people back to work right now is with bold actions from Congress.”

Later, the president traveled to a neighborhood near Sahara Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard to deliver remarks on a new program to aid homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of Las Vegas homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.

The Associated Press reported today that the proposal to change the 2-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program will help homeowners with little or no equity in their houses refinance by cutting the cost of doing so and removing caps to give deeply underwater borrowers access to the program. The new rules apply to homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages who are current on their payments.

With the president's jobs bill struggling in Congress, the White House is refocusing its efforts on steps Obama can take to address the nation's economic woes without lawmakers' approval. The new push comes with a fresh catchphrase as the White House tries to push Republicans into action: "We can't wait."

It's Obama's latest in a string of slogans aimed at blaming GOP lawmakers for lack of action on the economy.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that while executive actions are no substitute for Congress passing elements of the jobs bill, the economy requires action now.

"When Congress won't act, this president will," he said.

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  1. I think Carolyn's comment was very good. This was a good use of the mayor's bully pulpit.

    And of course the mayor (or any other voter for that matter) can tell the President what they think should be done. The lobbyists do it all the time.

  2. The AP version of this story ( http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/oct... ) included the tidbit that the largest donors got to meet with Obama.

    I understand the need for saying thank you, but ...

    By the way, was the Occupy Las Vegas group demonstrating outside the fund raiser like they did for the Republican debate?

  3. A group of several dozen "Occupy Las Vegas" protesters camping on Clark County land located under the final approach to Runway 19 at McCarran International Airport today narrowly missed being injured when a 50 lb. slab of "blue ice" reportedly landed within feet of their tents.

    According to witnesses, the slab fell to earth seconds after Air Force One passed overhead while landing.

    Blue ice is the frozen material formed by leaks in commercial aircraft lavatory waste tanks, a mixture of human waste and vivid blue liquid disinfectant that freezes at high altitude. The ice generally dissipates long before the aircraft lands, but there have been documented cases of blue ice clinging to aircraft surfaces until the aircraft reaches warmer air on approach to landing, then the ice may separate from the aircraft and fall to earth.

    Clark County Director of Aviation Randall Walker was immediately notified and dispatched airport personnel to the campsite, but witnesses report that the blue ice had melted by the time officials arrived leaving only a smelly brown residue.

  4. I feel so warm and fuzzy that we Americian Citizen's can afford to pay for Obama to fly around the USofA at hundreds of thousands of dollars in Air Force One. Since we the people are Dead A@# Broke. Especially since he DIST us after he was elected. How soon we forget and sure enough there is Mayor Goodman KISS A@#. GOOOOOO TEAM.

  5. HE flew into the epic center of hypocracy.

  6. Actually, if there were Occupiers at the fundraiser it would be more likely for Fox and the R-J to report it than MSNBC or the Sun. What I do know is that so far I have seen nothing in the Sun, on CNN or on the AP wire that mentions it.

    That's why I was asking. I refuse to go to the R-J website unless I don't have a choice. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've been to the R-J this year. The only time I see anything from Fox is when I see a clip on the Daily Show.

  7. I thought the first $850 billion was for shovel ready jobs. No? Then where exactly did the $850 billion go?

    Notice how no elected Nevada Democrat met him at the airport or wanted to be photographed with him? I certainly noticed it.

  8. And I thought the "Snake Oil Peddlers" were obsolete. This President is no different.