Signs encouraging “MO 4 Joe” and “#Joementum” lined the walls Monday at Columbia’s Activity and Recreation Center as people gathered to hear former second lady Jill Biden stump for her husband’s nomination. This rally came the day before Missouri’s primary election.

Running a few minutes late, Jill Biden entered the meeting room to a standing ovation. Though her talk only lasted about 20 minutes, she received around 10 standing ovations from the standing-room-only meeting room, filled with approximately 150 people.

Jill Biden discussed her husband’s work to end assaults and violence against women, including the Violence Against Women Act, which was cosponsored by Joe Biden and former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in 1994.

Some people said they support Joe Biden’s presidency and chose to attend the rally because of his platform of support for minority groups. Paula Cliburn, 67, said she is supporting Biden for president because the country “needs a gentleman for a change.” She said she agrees with Biden’s platform on people of color and the LGBTQ+ community and said she would vote for Biden because he largely aligns with former President Barack Obama, whom she also supported.

During the rally, Jill Biden then spoke of a world in 2021 in which the media is reporting on children with universal prekindergarten education, expansions of the Affordable Care Act and the president, in this scenario, “finally standing up to the NRA,” alluding to the idea that all of this would happen if Joe Biden were elected president.

Mary Ratliff, president of the Columbia chapter of the NAACP, said while she doesn’t endorse candidates, the organization is looking to support the Democratic candidate that has the best chance of beating current President Donald Trump. She said the members of the African American community need to see a change in politics, and Joe Biden seems more likely to be able to beat the current president in the general election than other Democratic candidates.

Before the event, people flooded in with blue and white Biden gear, while some attendees wore Elizabeth Warren or Pete Buttigieg attire.

Jennifer Roberts volunteered at the campaign rally sporting her “Pete” hat, in reference to former Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out of the race March 2. She said the room contained former supporters of Buttigieg, Warren and likely Kamala Harris. Buttigieg endorsed Biden after dropping out of the race, and Roberts said she and other Buttigieg supports are “following Pete’s orders to hop over to team Joe.”

She said the party needs to come together and “vote blue, no matter who ... because the planet needs it.” referring to the party supporting whichever Democratic candidate gets the presidential nomination

Taking a step away from policy and party, Laura Huntley, 42, brought her daughter and her daughter’s friend to the rally because she said it is important for young girls to see strong women and to get them engaged in the political process at a at a young age to learn about the political process.

Jill Biden holds a doctoral degree in education and worked to raise awareness of the value of community colleges during her time as second lady from 2008-16.

In a race across the state Monday, Jill Biden also held a rally in Kansas City and St. Louis. The Columbia stop was planned within a few days of the event, with the other two stops being planned further in advance.

Missouri’s polling places will be open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday. Visit the Missouri Secretary of State’s website to check your polling place.

  • Advanced public life reporter, spring 2019 Studying print and digital Journalism and Political Science You can reach me at or in the newsroom at 573-882-5700.

  • Hi! I am an Assistant City Editor for the education beat, which means I help with breaking news and all things K-12 or higher education. Any tips or story ideas can be sent to me at or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • I've been a reporter and editor at Missouri community newspapers for 35 years and joined the Columbia Missourian in 2003. My emphasis at the Missourian is on local government and elections. You can reach me at or at 573-884-5366.

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