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Biden And Sanders Campaigns Make Final Push For Votes Ahead Of Missouri's Democratic Primary

Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (left) and former Vice President Joe Biden made campaign stops in Missouri in recent days.

With Missourians heading to the polls Tuesday for the Democratic presidential primary, the campaigns for the two front runners made a final push for voters in the Show-Me State on Monday.

Jill Biden, former vice president Joe Biden’s wife, swung by Kansas City Monday to tour the Veterans Community Project and speak to supporters at the IBEW Local Union headquarters. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, rallied supporters at a stop in St. Louis.

In a roughly 15-minute speech to a crowd of more than a hundred people, Jill Biden spoke about her first date with her husband and Joe Biden’s resilience after his daughter and first wife died in a car accident. Her remarks offered a more personal portrait of the former vice president.

“I think over the years, I have been continually inspired by his resilience and his optimism,” Biden said. “He has an unshakeable faith in the future of our country.”

She also spoke about her husband’s accomplishments, such as sponsoring the Violence Against Women Act when he was a member of the U.S. Senate, and made the case that Biden was best positioned to build a diverse coalition of voters and unite the party. 

The message of unity appealed to R. Wentworth Jenkins. He said he came to the event because he was working during Joe Biden’s Saturday rally in Kansas City and wanted to hear directly from the campaign. 

“What I want more than anything is harmony and bringing together our country,” Jenkins said. 

Dixie Hicks, a retired educator, also cited unity and her desire to defeat President Donald Trump. 

“I think Bernie has some good ideas, but he doesn't play well with others,” Hicks said. “That's one reason I think he couldn't get things done. Because he's too radical and we don't need a revolution. We need to just get back to where we were and progress from there.”

Sanders told St. Louis Public Radio that he’s best positioned to excite the Democratic Party in November’s general election.

“Our agenda is the agenda that brings unity,” Sanders said. “Go around Missouri, go around Illinois what you will find is that people understand that we have to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, $15 bucks an hour. That brings people together.”

Biden heads into Tuesday’s primary with an overall delegate lead and a small advantage in Missouri, according to a recent poll, although the results were well within the poll’s margin of error. 

Biden has the backing of prominent Missouri political figures like U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and former Kansas City mayor Sly James. 

Meanwhile, Sanders has the support of Kansas City Councilman Brandon Ellington and Cori Bush, a Ferguson activist and congressional candidate. 

But some other elected officials have so far stayed quiet on who they’re supporting. That includes state auditor Nicole Galloway, who is running for governor and current Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. 

Jason Kander, the president of national expansion at the Veterans Community Project and former Missouri Secretary of State, has also declined to endorse a candidate. On Monday, Kander gave Jill Biden a tour of the group’s tiny houses before her stop at IBEW Local Union headquarters.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter: @avivaokeson.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman was the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3.
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