President Barack Obama will drop by Las Vegas today during a three-state visit to the West to pick up some campaign money and tout his revised jobs bill.
Obama, who needs financial support to get re-elected and is trying to squeeze some kind of job incentives out of a challenging Congress, will participate in a fundraiser at the Bellagio and visit a neighborhood on the far eastern side of Las Vegas, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
But even those who agree with the president might be inconvenienced by his visit during the middle of a business day, and at least one business is already complaining that it is going to hurt his business.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday that Obama on his visit to Nevada will talk about the American Jobs Act, the $447 billion combination of fresh spending and tax cuts, offset by tax hikes on the rich, that he has advanced to boost the economy.
Later in the day, he plans to hit Los Angeles, where on Tuesday he will tape an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. From there he will travel to San Francisco and Denver, White House officials said.
After the American Jobs Act was shelved in the Senate last week, Democrats are attempting to pass it in segments.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada announced Friday that the next segment would be $50 billion in funding and a $10 billion infrastructure bank to finance roads, bridges, aviation and transit projects.
But the first piece — $35 billion for states to avert layoffs to teachers and public safety officers — was defeated late Thursday.
While announcing the Las Vegas stop , the White House did not publicize details of specific events in the valley, other than to indicate that he will arrive in Las Vegas about noon and depart between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
But just like past presidential appearances, the visit will cause some delays at McCarran International Airport.
McCarran spokesman Chris Jones said flights into and out of the airport will be delayed briefly in order to ensure safety for Air Force One.
"It will be a very brief period of time," Jones said, adding the delays will affect the president’s arrival and departure. "There will be some impact."
In past presidential visits to Las Vegas, traffic near the Las Vegas Beltway and Paradise Road has been hectic. White House officials have repeatedly declined to give specifics on the president’s trip because of security concerns.
TOUR COMPANY COMPLAINT
At least one business owner thinks the presidential visit will hurt his company’s bottom line.
Nigel Turner, president and CEO of Heli USA, a helicopter tour company that flies out of McCarran to the Grand Canyon, said his business needs to make $60,000 daily in order to break even. Turner and other tour company operators made similar comments before an Obama visit in February 2010.
He said because of Obama’s visit, flights will be grounded.
Turner was irritated Sunday at the irony of Obama pushing a jobs bill yet hurting his company’s revenues.
"The biggest thing is making jobs," Turner said. "Yet, here is the president coming in to get re-elected and he will devastate one of the main industries in town … We’re in Vegas. Vegas is tourism."
Turner said the Secret Service won’t allow his company to fly because non-commercial air travel needs to stay a distance of 30 miles away from the president during his visit.
Since Obama was elected, Turner said his company has lobbied for permission to fly out of Boulder City Airport, which was the case when George W. Bush was in office. He said Boulder City is just under the 30-mile radius, hence, the Secret Service won’t allow helicopters to operate there during the visit.
Turner said his company charges $400 per person for the tours, and typically gets nearly 300 people to fly on an average day. He said he expects his flights to be grounded from 10 a.m. through the president’s visit. His company typically has tours beginning at 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at email@example.com or 702-383-4638.