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Obama ranks up there with Elvis impersonator on visitors’ list

Forget front-row seats to Celine or a chance to check out the latest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza.

For Scottish tourists Gillian Govan, Brian Williams and son Griff, the opportunity to see their hero – President Barack Obama – on Thursday at Cox Pavilion constituted the hottest ticket in Las Vegas.

In Southern Nevada for a vacation, with a stop scheduled today at the Graceland Wedding Chapel to exchange vows and be serenaded by a genuine Elvis impersonator, they’ve been having a good time. But when Gillian and Brian heard the president would visit Las Vegas to tout his jobs proposals and plan to extend low student loan interest rates, they thought they would try to see him.

When they secured tickets, they couldn’t have been more excited if they had won the lottery.

“We’re big heroes of his,” Brian says, a bit flustered. “I mean, obviously, he’s a hero of ours.”

For Gillian, the president’s more European approach to health care isn’t controversial, but common sense.

“His health policy, to us, seems a breath of fresh air in America,” she says.

She clearly doesn’t spend a lot of time listening to Rush Limbaugh.

The excitement of the Scottish visitors is a reminder that no matter how his approval ratings fluctuate in the United States, Obama has rock star status in much of Europe.

“He’s the leader of the free world,” Gillian says.

Adds Brian, “That makes him very much the leader of our world as he is your world.”

They just hope Obama “gets it right.”

It’s something else the Scots have in common with the Americans.

LINE PASS: As I worked the line Thursday morning, it became clear that the event was going to be one of the better attended of the president’s recent Las Vegas stops.

Carly Shadad is preparing to study marriage and family therapy in graduate school, and she was interested to hear what the president had to say about taming higher education costs. Energizing the student vote is part of the Obama campaign’s re-election strategy.

Steve and Cynthia McCoy, meanwhile, are career educators. Both taught at Clark High, and Thursday was the final day of Cynthia’s career. The couple celebrated by going to out to see the president.

“I’ve never seen President Obama in person,” Steve says. “I think he’s doing a good job. I like his message. I wanted to come and see him in person.”

A short distance away, registered Republican Jason Wadsworth appeared only slightly skeptical of Obama’s efforts. Important issues for Wadsworth include immigration and financial reform.

Although he was no fan of the health care “debacle,” he adds, “I think staying the course is really important.”

QUOTABLE POTUS: During his speech, Obama reminded his adoring crowd of many things, not the least of which is the need for a tax break for small businesses.

“Instead of just talking about job creators, Congress should put their money where their mouth is,” he said. “Give small- business owners a tax break for hiring more workers and for paying higher wages.”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Another group of defendants in the ongoing homeowners association corruption scandal pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court recently. Now I’m hearing federal prosecutors are focused on finishing their business with former Chief Deputy District Attorney Victoria Villegas.

Villegas was married to attorney David Amesbury, a key player in the HOA investigation and a bank loan fraud associated with the construction of the Courthouse Cafe. Amesbury, who pleaded guilty in association with the investigation and had agreed to cooperate, died in late March of a suspected suicide.

TWITTERPATED: If you don’t follow me on Twitter @jlnevadsmith, here’s the caliber of smart aleck remarks you are missing: “After Whittemore indictment, Nevada politicians now researching their favorite statute – the statute of limitations.”

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

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