Viewing video requires the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player
When former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was getting ready Wednesday for his debut as the city’s official goodwill ambassador, little did he know that he was going to get an opportunity to crack wise on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his comments that people were “stupid” to visit Las Vegas in the summer.
There he was in a familiar pose, a showgirl on each arm, charming Latin American media representatives gathered at the Venetian for the opening of La Cumbre, a three-day meeting of travel exhibitors and buyers from the Americas and the Caribbean.
But he saved his best remarks for a press conference following the La Cumbre reception in response to comments Christie made while introducing a state official responsible for revitalizing Atlantic City, the nation’s No. 2 gaming market behind Las Vegas.
Christie, in an obvious effort to grab attention, said, “There is no reason people should go to Las Vegas in the summer. Why would you go to the middle of the desert in the summer? You’d have to be stupid to do that.”
Goodman joined his wife, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in sniping back at Christie.
Asked if he thought Christie had ever been to Las Vegas, Goodman said, “I doubt he would want to have that much fun.”
“You know, I’m from back there. I think the only reason I’d go back there is if I needed a salt water taffy fix. I can’t see any other reason to go there.”
Looking at one of the showgirls accompanying him, he asked, “Who would you rather be with? My showgirls or Snooki?” he said, referring to one of the stars of the popular “Jersey Shore” reality show.
“I don’t blame him for trying to do what he’s doing, but you’ll fall flat on your face when you try to take Las Vegas on. There’s a lot of smart people here today, so you’ve got to be careful what you say.”
Earlier, Carolyn Goodman was more reserved in her comments.
“A little heat with our state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, climate-controlled resorts is certainly much more inviting than having to deal with some of the weather they have had to endure in New Jersey recently,” she told The Associated Press, referring to Hurricane Irene that battered the East Coast last week.
La Cumbre is in its 22nd year, and the 2011 gathering is the third visit to Las Vegas in 10 years. A record 250 exhibitors and 300 buyers are participating this year, and about 900 people are attending the event.
Tour operators, convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, resorts and tourism attractions will dominate the trade show floor.
While Raphael Villanueva of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Gaston Isoldi of event producer Reed Exhibitions and John Caparella, president of The Venetian, gave the particulars about La Cumbre, it was Goodman and his showgirls who got most of the media attention.
Goodman explained his new position with the LVCVA.
“One of the positions that I assumed after I left the job as the mayor was to be the chairman of a host committee, which is being sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority,” he said. “What we’re doing is bringing in the leaders of the community and we’re all going to gather together in an effort to make ourselves more ambassadorial.”
He also talked about the city’s room capacity, the number of people who visit Las Vegas from Latin America and the ongoing struggle the United States is undergoing to change visa waiver policies.