Obama 'Campaigns' for Reid Without Calling for his Reelection

ABC's Yunji de Nies and Jon Garcia report: Although President Barack Obama’s town hall in Henderson, NV was billed as a White House event, it sounded a lot more like a campaign rally for Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). The President repeatedly lavished praise on the embattled Senate Majority Leader, thanking him “for his leadership,” and calling him “one of the toughest people I know.” “He takes his licks, but he gets back up. Harry Reid has never stopped fighting,” Obama told more than 2000 Nevadans at a high school just outside of Las Vegas. He credited Reid in part for bringing tax cuts to “95 percent” of the audience and said that with Reid’s toughness, the Recovery Act funds will be recovered. “We’re gonna get your money back, because Harry Reid is gonna get your money back,” the President said. Reid returned the compliments, saying Obama has a “superb mind. He is a calm deliberate man who is a peace maker both here and around the world.” Obama attended a fundraiser for the DNC last night and has appeared several times to stump for the Senator. But at those events, the Democratic National Committee foots the bill. At today’s event, the taxpayers paid the price. Though the President did not explicitly call for Reid’s reelection, Obama touted Senator Reid more than a dozen times in his opening remarks and several more times during the question and answer session. At one point he even handed the microphone to Reid, who was sitting on the stage right behind the President, so that Reid could take one of the questions from the audience about building tourism in Nevada. In addition to touting Reid, Obama also used the event to try defray the anger in Las Vegas over his recent comments which many here say reinforced a negative stereotype of the city. Earlier this month Obama said: “When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college.” Today, Obama asked one audience member, who was visiting from out of town, if he was spending money in Las Vegas. “Yes sir,” the man replied. “That’s good!” Obama replied. “That’s what we like to hear. .. Everyone comes to Vegas! That’s what I’m talking about!” the President said to applause. The town hall was also the event the White House used to unveil a new $1.5 billion mortgage relief program, designed to stem the tide of foreclosures in the five states hardest hit by the housing crisis. The new program will use money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and is designed to be more effective than the current plan by using local housing authorities to administer the money. “This fund is going to help out-of-work homeowners avoid preventable foreclosures. It will help homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth find a way, to pay their mortgages, that works for both the borrowers and the lenders alike,” Obama said. “It can't stop every foreclosure. And tax dollars shouldn't be used to reward the very irresponsible lenders and borrowers who helped bring about the housing crisis. But what we can do is help families who've done everything right stay in their homes whenever possible,” he said. Obama took seven questions on everything from health care to energy to education. Most of his answers centered on his often repeated policy plans to spur investment in new technologies and getting the economy back on track.

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