By Jessica Machetta & Braxton Payne
Military service and middle-class roots were at the core of Vice President Joe Biden’s stump speech for Jason Kander in University City Friday afternoon. More than 2,000 democratic supporters packed the Pageant on the Delmar Loop in the eastern Missouri city. Cathy from Cathy’s Kitchen in Ferguson introduced Kander and Biden, who walked onto the stage to chants of “Joe! Joe! Joe!”
Maureen Jordan from West County was one of them. She said she was not surprised to see the Vice President at a Kander rally.
“It’s so important,” she said, admitting her support and enthusiasm for Kander has been eclipsed because of her love for Hillary Clinton, but says she follows politics closely, and wasn’t surprised by Biden’s visit. “I expected it,” she said. “We have to get the seat out from Blunt. He’s been here too long. Missouri is probably going to go with Trump, but Kander is running neck in neck with Blunt, so people are going to have to split their ticket.”
Kander has been pushing that very message, smearing Republican incumbent Roy Blunt in campaign ads as a politician who has strong ties to lobbyists, including two of his children and his wife. He reiterated that on stage, focusing on how he intends to “fix” congress.
Kander discussed affordable college, higher wages, support for unions, and his wish to have more veterans serve in Congress.
“We can’t change Washington until we change the people we send there,” he repeated his campaign message to the crowd.
Biden took the podium and began by recounting a story of a trip to Afghanistan — where Kander served overseas — and became emotional when comparing his son Beau’s service with that of Kander.
He talked about his upbringing and how his father raised him with middle-class ideals like, “Show me your budget and I’ll show you your values.”
Biden said Kander was raised with those same ideals and values, and that he’s the man to bring them to the U.S. Senate. Biden said there are several similarities between himself and Kander, pointing out that Kander is a millennial, and that Biden himself was only 29 when he was first elected to the Senate.
Anna Milburn, a senior at St. Joseph’s Academy, took the afternoon off school to see Biden and Kander speak. She said this is her first year as a voter, and she’s excited to join an informed electorate.
“I’m so excited to be here,” she said, “I’ve been shaking and waiting all day to get here. I’ve been pretty constant in my support for Hillary, and I’ll be voting democratic down the ticket.”
Milburn said the issues she’s been paying close attention to during this election cycle include sexual assault on college campuses, and the economy.
“I want to see how things are going to play out after this,” she said.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll released Friday shows Kander and Blunt in a virtual tie, with Blunt at 47 to Kander’s 46.
Election Day is November 8.