President Barack Obama on Friday continued his efforts to help U.S. Sen. Harry Reid get re-elected and demonstrate that his own policies are helping Nevada's and America's beleaguered economy recover from a deep recession.
Speaking in the student union at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas alongside Reid and other community leaders, the president referenced Reid's distant past as an amateur boxer and said it would help the four-term Democratic incumbent survive the political challenge he faces today in the form of Republican Sharron Angle, who is gunning for his job.
"He's a fighter, and you should never bet against him," Obama said of Reid. "And that's just what we need right now. That is what Nevada needs right now."
Obama talked about his efforts to help revive the economy. He called on Congress to act on a proposal for a $5 billion expansion of the Section 48c Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.
When he announced the program last year, it was such a success that there were nearly four times as many worthy requests as there were tax credits, he said.
Obama cited Las Vegas solar company Amonix, which received a $6 million credit it matched with $12 million in private sector money. He said it was one of 180 such projects in 40 states.
He credited Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Orrin Hatch of Utah for supporting the program, but added the bipartisan nature of the effort was the exception rather than the rule in Washington.
"That's why I'm glad we've got a boxer in the Senate who's not afraid to fight for what he believes in. Harry and I are going to keep on fighting. Until wages and incomes are rising again, businesses are hiring again right here in Nevada," Obama said.
Reid took the stage before Obama.
He said the current Congress and administration have been more productive than any others, citing legislation on everything from health care to the environment to new regulations on tobacco and credit card companies.
He also took a few shots at Wall Street bankers, who Reid blames for the lousy economy and lost jobs in Nevada.
"Greedy Wall Street took that away from us," Reid said. "They gambled with our money, they gambled with our jobs and they lost."
The UNLV speech drew a swift response from Republicans, who have sought to paint Obama and Reid as driving up the federal government's debt to the point it will hinder, not help, the economic recovery.
"President Obama's recycled stump speech and partisan one-liners can't explain how six more years of Harry Reid will turn around Nevada's ailing economy," said Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
"While Harry Reid and Barack Obama sing each other's praises, more than 192,000 unemployed Nevadans are still looking for jobs," he said
Obama boarded Air Force One at McCarran International Airport and left for Washington just before 10:30 a.m., ending his 18-hour visit to Las Vegas.
Earlier Friday morning, F-16 fighter jets intercepted two single-engine aircraft near Las Vegas for violating restricted airspace related to Obama's visit.
Two fighters under the direction of North American Aerospace Defence Command responded during the incident, NORAD said.
The fighters intercepted the first aircraft, a Cessna 210, just after 7 a.m. The other aircraft was intercepted about 7:30 a.m., NORAD said.
The Cessna landed at the North Las Vegas Airport, where it was met by local authorities. The second aircraft landed in Mesquite, where it also was met by authorities.
Review-Journal writers Lynnette Curtis and Brian Haynes contributed to this report. Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at email@example.com or 702-477-3861.