Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and running mate John Edwards will stop this afternoon in Jefferson City for a rally at the Capitol as part of a statewide tour that includes stops in Hannibal and St. Louis.
“Democrats are fired up. This is historic for Jeff City. I can’t remember the last time the president and vice president candidates both showed up at the same time,” said Jim Gardner, communications director for the Missouri Democratic Party.
Gardner said the Kerry advance staff has worked since Monday to prepare for the visit. Mid-Wednesday afternoon, minutes before a downpour, about two dozen workers assembled an outdoor stage near a statue of Thomas Jefferson. A large white tent, which will serve as a security checkpoint, was already set up.
Gardner estimated that the grounds can hold more than 10,000 people, who will have to stand because there will not be seating. Handicapped accommodations will be available, and the event will be held outside, rain or shine.
The Secret Service will provide security. Kerry and Edwards will travel to the event by train and will take a motorcade from the train station to the Capital.
Gardner anticipates a large crowd. “We probably won’t pack the grounds since it’s a daytime event,” he said. “But we do expect several thousand people.”
He said the entire Missouri Democratic ticket, as determined in Tuesday’s primary, has been invited to appear at the rally, but no confirmations had been received by Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Golden, communications director for Kerry’s Missouri campaign, said he thinks Kerry and Edwards will talk about their positions on funding for education, affordable health care and the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
“John Kerry and John Edwards are going to be talking about becoming champions for the middle class in this country,” Golden said. “Missouri is going to be a closely contested state in this campaign, and it’s important for Kerry and Edwards to touch as many voters and get their message out about a stronger America to as many people as possible.”
Kerry and Edwards will stop at Union Station in Kansas City for a rally at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Missourian reporter Lindy Bavolek contributed to this article.