© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

1,000 Turn Out For Missouri Senate Rally With Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallied in Kansas City Friday for fellow Democrat Jason Kander, saying he is the candidate for the working middle-class while GOP incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt works only for “millionaires and billionaires.”

With polls showing the U.S. Senate race in a dead heat, Democrats sent one of their leading stars into a state that the party hopes will help it win the majority in the Senate. To win control, Democrats need to take four seats if Hillary Clinton wins or five seats if Donald Trump prevails.

Warren hammered on what she termed her values, which she said Kander shares, such as supporting the protection and expansion of Social Security, equal pay for women and policies to assist students with college debt. 

“Jason is tough. He is smart. He is experienced and he’s going to fight. Fight for his values, fight for our values,” Warren told a late afternoon rally that attracted 1,000 to the College Basketball Experience in the Power & Light District.

Anticipating the Warren appearance, the Missouri GOP held a conference call earlier Friday with reporters, linking Kander to what the party calls liberal Washington politicians.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Jefferson City Republican, wondered why Kander would want to associate with Hillary Clinton as president, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, as the potential leader of the Senate and “Miss Warren as his potential mentor.”

“That is a liberal list of folks who I don’t think the people of Missouri could really support, would send a chill down the spine of the majority of people in the state if they really stopped and thought about it for a little bit,” Luetkemeyer said.

Hitting on her own working class roots in Oklahoma, Warren argued for a clear distinction between Kander and Blunt. She recounted the first bill she introduced in the Senate in 2014, which would have allowed for the refinancing of student debt, much like refinancing a mortgage. As the crowd booed, Warren said Blunt didn’t vote for her plan because it would have increased taxes on the wealthy.

“For Roy Blunt, it was more important to protect millionaires and billionaires then to help students right here in Missouri,” she said. “Missouri needs a senator that will stand up for students. It needs Jason Kander.”

Kander, currently the Missouri Secretary of State, told the crowd that there’s a new American generation stepping forward. He described people who, like him, volunteered for military service even though they knew they might be called to fight a war.

“I’m not interested in being distracted by these same Washington politicians who tell us our country is doomed or that our country is incapable of greatness,” he said.

If Kander gave a nod to Trump, Warren full out blasted him. To the roar of the crowd, Warren said Trump’s campaign is “ugly.”

“Donald Trump calls African Americans thugs, Muslims terrorists, Latinos criminals and brags about sexually assaulting women.

“Well we believe that racism and sexism and bigotry have no place in this country. We believe that black lives matter. We believe in immigration reform. We believe that diversity is what makes this country strong.”

Several speakers at the rally pointed out that Blunt has not pulled his endorsement of Trump. After the release of the tape last week when Trump made lewd remarks about women, Blunt called on Trump to apologize. Most recently, Blunt has bristled at reporters’ continued questions about his Trump support.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.