10/2/03 10:35 AM Inches: 9.6 REGULAR BC-NV-Bush-Nevada 10-02 0410
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — George Bush plans his first presidential visit to Nevada in late November — for a Las Vegas fund-raiser — and GOP Gov. Kenny Guinn’s office said Thursday he’s excited about the event although still opposed to Bush’s backing of a nuclear dump in this state.
“Gov. Guinn is excited to host the president in the state for the first time since he was elected president,” Guinn spokesman Greg Bortolin said. “Clearly, the governor disagrees with the president on the Yucca Mountain issue, but he is solidly behind the president and is working on his re-election.”
Bortolin said he spoke to the Bush re-election campaign to confirm a Thanksgiving week visit is planned, reportedly Nov. 25 at a $2,000-per-person luncheon.
Nevada is one of just a few states that have not seen a presidential visit, and Democrats contend Bush has hesitated to come here because of possible protests by foes of nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Bush didn’t visit Las Vegas when he was campaigning in 2000, but did visit Lake Tahoe to raise $300,000 for his campaign and another $240,000 for the Republican Party.
When a reporter tried to question him about the Yucca Mountain Project, Bush said, “I put out a statement. You’ve got my statement.”
His predecessor, President Clinton, made eight presidential visits to Las Vegas. He raised more than $2 million here while in office.
Although Democrats said the Yucca Mountain Project would move forward if Bush were elected president, Bush won 50 percent of the vote in Nevada. Democrat Al Gore took 46 percent, Ralph Nader took 2 percent, and the rest were scattered among minor candidates.
After Bush won, he recommended Yucca Mountain as a storage site for the nation’s nuclear waste. The first waste shipments are expected to arrive in 2010.
Although the state has just five electoral votes, Nevada has been identified as a battleground state in the upcoming presidential election.
Vice President Dick Cheney visited Las Vegas July 21 and raised $300,000 at an event at the home of wealthy liquor merchant Larry Ruvo, state finance chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
Environmental groups organized protests outside the gated Spanish Trail community, but Cheney went out another exit and didn’t see them.