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Reid: Obama plans to visit Las Vegas in spring or early summer

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, a frequent visitor to Nevada while he was running for president, will return to Las Vegas in the coming months, Sen. Harry Reid said today.

Reid said Obama accepted an invitation to visit this spring or “early summer.”

Obama “during the campaign was in Nevada 20 times,” Reid said. This would be his first trip to the state as president.

A Reid spokesman said no date has been set.

Reid made the disclosure in a Senate speech in which he tried to put out a fire over Obama’s remarks Monday about Las Vegas.

At a news conference, Obama scolded companies that have planned to hold meetings or events in Las Vegas after receiving federal bailout funds.

The comments have set off a furor in Nevada, as resort operators and officials such as Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said the president’s comments were hurting business.

Reid in his speech said Las Vegas is the best place in the world for companies to hold meetings and outings — just as long as they don’t spend federal bailout money on the events.

Reid said Obama’s criticism was aimed at the use of “taxpayer funds for junkets,” and not Las Vegas as the destination.

“The president knows that Las Vegas is America’s premiere destination to do business,” Reid said. “The city has more than 140,000 hotel rooms and tens of thousands of feet of meeting space.”

“President Obama and I agree that every penny of taxpayer funds must be protected,” Reid said. “We also agree that Las Vegas is one of America’s great destinations for tourists, families and businesses.”

Reid said he spoke with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel about the comments.

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