At the beginning of the downturn, Las Vegas received a low blow from President Obama. The president unfairly (and I suspect unwittingly) singled out Las Vegas as a place government and companies who do business with the government should avoid. Las Vegas immediately lost travel business and experts say our travel downturn today is a few percentage points worse than the rest of the nation because of it.
We ought not to forget that. We should also remember who stood up for Las Vegas, and who didn’t.
First and foremost give credit to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. He squared up on the president’s statement and never came off of it. Gov. Jim Gibbons came in a close second. Later, Rep. Shelley Berkley stepped up to publicly defend Las Vegas on the matter. The political leader most AWOL was the guy with the most presidential clout — Sen. Harry Reid. He didn’t say a thing until well after the fact.
We still suffer from the president’s gaffe. We’ll overcome that damage, I suspect. But in the meanwhile, we ought never forget who stood up for Las Vegas when it counted … and who didn’t.