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President Obama hit up high-rollers in Vegas before speaking on housing crisis

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LAS VEGAS — Before highlighting the plight of underwater homeowners, of whom there are many out here in the desert, President Obama had a little business of his own to attend to on Monday: raising campaign money.

Obama landed in Las Vegas and headed for the Bellagio, where a $1,000-a-plate fundraising luncheon awaited him. About 300 people were scheduled to attend, and for the pleasure, they paid from $1,000 up to the legal maximum of $35,800.

Among the event’s hosts were hotel executive Stephen J. Cloobeck and his wife, Chantal;pulmonologist Rachakonda Prabhu and Lata Prabhu; and James Murren, chairman and chief executive of the MGM Mirage, and his wife, Heather Murren, chairman and chief executive of the Nevada Cancer Institute.

“I’m here today not just because I need your help, again, but because the country needs your help,” Obama told the audience. “If you thought the last election was important . . . what happens in the coming year will be even more consequential. It’s going to matter to your kids, it’s going to matter to your grandkids.”

Once again the president took the opportunity to tout his jobs bill and lament Republican opposition to it. In a speech laced with partisan criticism of the GOP stand against the measure, Obama said he has been confronting two problems — “an economic crisis” and a “political crisis.”

“The ideas that the other side is propagating, we’ve tried,” he said. “What they’re proposing, we tried for 10 years. Remember? Does anyone remember?”

Then he asked, “Where did we end up?”

His answer: With a struggling middle class that tried to make up for stagnating wages through borrowing that resulted in a “housing bubble,” which popped with devastating consequences along the cul-de-sacs of this once-thriving city.

Obama’s three-day swing through Nevada, California and Colorado will include only two public events — plus an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” his second as president. The rest will be dedicated to the pay-per-view work of raising money.

After his stop here, Obama was scheduled to head to Los Angeles, where he was to attend a pair of private fundraisers Monday evening. Democratic officials said the two fundraisers, both attended by Hollywood glitterati, would include about 240 guests, each paying between $5,000 to $35,800.

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