Hillary Clinton met GOP uber-donor Sheldon Adelson backstage at event
She was in Las Vegas to headline two fundraisers
At University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Clinton said education needs to be "widely available"
Clinton also met Don King, the legendary boxing promoter, at one of the fundraisers
Like most people who visit Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton had an interesting few hours during her time on Monday.
She met a legendary boxing promoter at a fundraiser that was held down the hall from a wedding. And she crossed paths with an uber-GOP moneyman at a dinner with 900 of Nevada’s biggest philanthropists and donors, where Clinton was presented with a pair of “running” shoes.
All in an odd days work for Clinton as she tours the nation for a combination of paid and political speaking engagements.
Clinton ended her night keynoting a fundraiser for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation, where the former secretary of state collected a $225,000 paycheck for a speech that touted the need for more access to higher education.
“More needs to be done,” Clinton said of making higher education available. “Higher education shouldn’t be a privilege for those able to afford it. It should be an opportunity widely available for anyone with the talent and determination and ambition to learn.”
While the event was trumpeted as a night with Hillary Clinton, the gala was also a forum to honor Sheldon Adelson, the controversial casino magnate who operates numerous casinos in Nevada and overseas. Adelson, who was honored on Monday for his $7 million commitment to UNLV’s hotel college, dished out millions of dollars to Republican presidential hopefuls in 2012 and is expected to do the same in 2016.
Adelson and Clinton met backstage before the former first lady’s speech and, according to Clinton, joked about their differences.
“Sheldon said to me ‘Gee, I wish they paired me with you to ask the questions, we could have a really (good) debate,” Clinton said to laughs from the audience.
Clinton wasn’t exactly effusive in honoring Adelson’s donation to UNLV at the top of her speech, though. While she heralded others work for UNLV, she said the casino magnate’s “work in this community… was also honored” tonight.
Clinton’s message, like during most speeches, struck a bipartisan tone.
“I think it is time we get back to working together again,” Clinton said. “And that we do it in spirit of openness and understanding that we may have different views… but we are Americans and most importantly we have to be on the American team.”
Clinton was also interviewed on stage Monday by Brian Greenspun, the publisher of the Las Vegas Sun and Bill Clinton’s college roommate.
Greenspun, who referred to Clinton as a “friend” on stage, kicked off their conversation by presenting Clinton with a pair of running shoes. The newspaper publisher was clear to point out that his wife bought the shoes “in the section that said running shoes,” a reference to Clinton’s likely run for the presidency in 2016.
Clinton’s appearance at UNLV was controversial when it was announced over the summer because the university foundation was paying Clinton at the same time that tuition was being raised for students. On Monday, event organizers argued that the fee was worth it because the event would raise more money than the foundation would spend.
Clinton started the day in Colorado, where she headlined a closed fundraiser for Sen. Mark Udall, who is running for re-election. The pair also visited a local coffee shop and joked about the designs at the top of their lattes.
“Look at you, you got like a plant,” Clinton said to Udall.
“Is that a marijuana plant?” Clinton joked, referring to Colorado’s recent decision to legalize marijuana.
Her first event in Las Vegas was headlining a fundraiser for the Reid Nevada Fund, a joint fundraising agreement between the Nevada Democratic Party and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection campaign.
The event was well attended by a who’s who of Nevada Democrats and big-money donors in the Silver State.
Representatives Dina Titus and Steven Horsford attended the $10,000-a-person VIP event. Roberta Lange, chairwoman of the Nevada State Democratic Party, also attended, as did Peter Palivos, a controversial philanthropist and Reid donor.
But by far the most colorful attendee was Don King, the legendary boxing promoter.
“I have been a supporter of Secretary Clinton for a long time,” King said as he walked into the event. “She is a dynamic woman, and I am a fighter for woman’s rights.”
King sported a jean jacket decorated with stars and stripes. He carried with him both an American and Israeli flag and was trailed by both a still photographer and a videographer – paid for by him – who said they were making a documentary about his political life.
As for whether he supports Clinton running for president in 2016, King would not say, though he did say she “would be a fighter from the womb to the tomb.”
As attendees left the Reid fundraiser and headed to the UNLV event, the sharply dressed couples passed a small “wedding in progress” at the Aria Hotel and Casino chapel.
Only in Vegas.