Biden visits Missouri, calls for national healing

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledges the crowd during a campaign rally on Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri.

KANSAS CITY — Joe Biden used just a few words to sum up the state of the Democratic race for the presidential nomination.

“Folks, what a difference a week makes,” he said Saturday, giving an appreciative laugh.

Seven days before, Biden stood on the threshold of falling desperately out of contention. As South Carolina counted the primary votes last Saturday, a restoration of his hopes took shape.

His overwhelming victory there, along with endorsements he gained from Democratic adversaries exiting the race and a bonanza of delegates in the Super Tuesday voting, put a spring in Biden’s step as he came to Kansas City Saturday night just ahead of the Missouri primary.

“I believe with every fiber of my being that it’s our obligation to repair this country in a way that is badly needed,” the former vice president told the crowd.

Biden spoke beneath the Liberty Memorial on the level above the National World War I Museum. The crowd cheered the candidate’s call for healing the divisions of the nation.

“Our children are watching, our children are listening. Think about this. How many of you have had to pull you child away from the television set when the president’s on? Not a joke,” he said. “Look, folks, the world is watching, and they’re wondering. So it’s time for America to get back up.”

Biden had only glancing criticisms for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the remaining candidate within striking distance of the Democratic nomination. He did not pull punches when referring to President Trump.

“We have to beat Donald Trump and the Republican Party, but we can’t become like them,” he told the crowd.

The Democrat touched upon the help he has received from Missourians in the past, name-checking former Sen. Tom Eagleton and others, and called for his supporters to be positive about the future.

He urged a national health care initiative to take on cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and the candidate promised to work with global allies to return the United States to a prominent spot on the international stage.

The middle class, Biden said, should take heart in his candidacy.

“Wall Street didn’t build your country,” he said. “You built this country.”

Karen Planalp, a Buchanan County Democrat, attended the get-out-the-vote rally and found an appeal in Biden’s message.

“He is respected globally, and he will bring respect back to the United States, everything from education, military support, health care, of course guns, and he will just bring respect to the United States on a global level,” she said.

Protesters interrupted the event for a short time, yelling at Biden about housing issues. He said he would address their concerns, but when their shouting continued, he said, “This is not a Trump rally.”

Those yelling were escorted out by police.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Voters can pick from Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Constitution and Green party ballots.

Sanders, who had scheduled a Kansas City event on Monday, canceled the event, citing scheduling constraints.

Ken Newton can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton.