Luxe Life Blog
Obama to attend Harry Reid fundraiser at Caesars Palace amid tight security
President Barack Obama will receive a glittering showbiz welcome to Caesars Palace tonight amid unprecedented Secret Service security, and it’s not because he faces a hailstorm of criticism from Nevada politicos! Strip entertainers Bette Midler and Rita Rudner will be joined by singer Sheryl Crow to welcome Obama onstage at The Colosseum for a concert to raise funds for Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election campaign.
The Silver State politicians are waiting for the president to set the record straight about tourism here, and he’s promised to do just that as a tourism booster. Everybody from our Merry Mayor of Mirth Oscar Goodman to Gov. Jim Gibbons lambasted the nation’s chief executive after a February speech when he said that companies deeply affected by the economic downturn and receiving taxpayer assistance shouldn’t go to Las Vegas. The remark triggered a wave of convention cancellations, including banking giants Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, that affected our economy and led to layoffs at our resort hotels. Gibbons said the business travel brouhaha cost Las Vegas $100 million.
Tonight -- and tomorrow out at Nellis Air Force Base, when he makes a speech about his Recovery Act and other economic stimulus efforts -- Obama has said he will clear up the controversy. Oscar said The White House has assured him that there will be positive statements about Las Vegas being a good place for businesses to visit for meetings and conventions. Says Oscar: “I believe he will straighten it out. People listen to what he says because he is the most important person in the world.” Sen. Reid added: “I’m sure he’ll take care of it and take the time to say something positive about travel to Nevada.”
Additionally, new bills are proceeding through Washington that will benefit Nevada, where 230,000 jobs and one-third of the budget are tied to tourism. Our recession-battered travel industry should get a boost from the new Travel Promotion Act, which aims to stop the slide and increase foreign tourism. Reid and our Congresswoman Shelly Berkley are leading legislation that will allow business travelers to deduct the cost of bringing their spouses with them and the restoration of the 100 percent deduction for business meals!
This is Obama’s first trip to Las Vegas since his election victory. He was here three times during his campaigning. Vegas DeLuxe has learned that he will stay overnight this evening at Caesars Palace, where the Secret Service have been for the past five days planning the massive security for his visit.
They have secured three floors of suites and rooms in one of the towers, and the president will have the same suite as before, the one that Oprah Winfrey used when she was here taping a week of shows at Caesars Palace. In addition, the employee parking structures have been closed, and three floors are strictly reserved for Secret Service vehicles, the presidential limousine and support vehicles.
I was reliably told that the Secret Service originally wanted to shut down the casino gaming floor operations, but that’s the one department of Las Vegas business nobody can touch! The Secret Service, however, has mandated air space restrictions on a 10-mile radius from McCarran Airport from 5 p.m. today until 1 p.m. tomorrow, when Obama flies out on Air Force One to Los Angeles. Several streets around Caesars Palace also will be closed, and various driveways within the resort’s Augustus Tower complex will be blocked off.
Meantime, as our local headliner Clint Holmes prepares to sing the national anthem for the concert, comedienne Rita Rudner tested out her comedy material on audiences at her Harrah’s showroom this past weekend. Also part of the entertainment is the student choir from the Las Vegas Academy, where Dancing With the Stars’ Julianne Hough graduated. The Las Vegas Mass Choir will perform gospel numbers, and singer Rachel Yamagata is part of the lineup alongside Bette and Sheryl. Bette resumes her regular run of shows at The Colosseum tomorrow night.
Reid is hoping to raise $2 million from tonight’s show for his re-election campaign, but late yesterday, tickets were still on sale for the 8 p.m. concert. No word yet if the president will go for dinner at one of the Caesars Palace celebrity chef restaurants before or after the concert, where he also will hold a $2,400 a person backstage meet and greet photo opportunity.
Don’t be surprised if Obama walks onstage and cracks a line about never guessing he’d be a Vegas headliner following in the footsteps of Celine Dion and Elton John! We’ll have the rundown of his stay right here at Vegas DeLuxe tomorrow.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.