[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/30/art.getty.reid.closeup.jpg caption="Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the White House on Tuesday to 'lay off Las Vegas' after President Obama slighted the city during a riff about government spending."]Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the White House on Tuesday to "lay off Las Vegas" after President Obama slighted the city during a riff about government spending.
"You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage," Obama said at a New Hampshire town hall Tuesday. "You don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. And it's time your government did the same."
That remark sparked a flurry of condemnations from Nevada Republicans, including Danny Tarkanian and Sue Lowden, two Republicans hoping to unseat Reid this November.
"It is indefensible for Harry Reid to once again sit on his hands when President Obama continues to bash Las Vegas and Nevada's economic engine," Lowden said in a statement e-mailed out to reporters Tuesday afternoon.
But Reid, it turns out, was already on the case.
"I just spoke to the White House and told them that while the President is correct that people saving for college need to be fiscally responsible, the President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money," Reid said in a statement. "To truly reenergize our economy, we need people to travel to Las Vegas. I would much rather tourists and business travelers spend their money in Las Vegas than spend it overseas."
Nevada's junior senator - Republican Sen. John Ensign - demanded an apology from the president.
"Las Vegas is suffering through one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and we cannot afford for the President to bring us down any further," Ensign tweeted.
- CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report