John Kerry was a hit in Kansas City on Saturday when the Massachusetts senator garnered support from union leaders and a crowd of about 700 at a downtown hotel.
Poll numbers look to be paving the way to victory in Missouri for Kerry, who focused his attention during the raucous campaign event on beating Bush in November. “I think they can hear you all the way in (White House adviser) Karl Rove’s office,” Kerry told the cheering crowd.
Local politicians endorse Kerry
The candidate also picked up an endorsement from former Gov. Roger Wilson in Columbia, who told The Associated Press on Friday that he was impressed by Kerry’s “personal courage under fire” as a soldier in Vietnam.
“My decision to support John Kerry is in no way a slight of the other candidates,” he said. “There are several candidates who would make excellent presidents, but we each make our decisions for our reasons.”
On Saturday, Columbia split its support between Kerry and his emerging rival here, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Edwards netted nods from state representatives Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, and Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, as well as Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller.
Kerry is the choice, however, for former congressional candidate Don Deichman, the organizer of a group of local veterans and farmers who favor Kerry for his stance on providing government price supports for agricultural products instead of subsidies.
Candidates visit St. Louis
Further east, the race’s former front-runner, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, attracted a crowd of about 300 supporters on Friday at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis.
Last week, St. Louis played host to Edwards, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Kerry. Kerry nabbed endorsements there from Mayor Francis Slay and former U.S. Sens. Jean Carnahan and Thomas Eagleton.
But locals who hoped to see Democrats duke it out in a debate Monday at the University of Missouri-St. Louis will find cold weather, not the candidates, coming to town instead. A winter storm in the forecast and scheduling conflicts for some of the candidates led organizers to cancel the event. There hasn’t been a lot of presidential campaigning in Missouri’s capital yet. But on Monday, 81-year-old Virginia economist Lyndon LaRouche plans to drum up support for his campaign in Jefferson City. LaRouche is a big long-shot, not even ranking in tracking polls done for MSNBC-Reuters.
Although Missouri’s 74 delegates are a juicy prize, some candidates have decided to focus their energies on other states. Retired general Wesley Clark and Sen. Joseph Lieberman have been no-shows in the “Show-Me State” in the past week. Lieberman is concentrating on Delaware, and Clark is wooing Oklahoma.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who ranks low in the polls, is also doing his campaigning elsewhere.
— Compiled from staff and wire reports