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Jill Biden And Hillary Clinton Campaign Virtually In Missouri For Joe Biden

Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd of supporters at Kiener Plaza Park in downtown St. Louis on Saturday afternoon. (March 7, 2020)
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Jill Biden, wife of likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, is calling for Americans to be mindful of threats to their votes as they head into this fall’s contest between her husband and President Donald Trump.

During an online fundraising event Thursday with St. Louis supporters, Jill Biden recounted her sister’s experience in Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania. She said her sister voted in person and was concerned that when she turned in her sealed ballot, the poll worker took it into another room.

“My sister said to me: ‘Jill, I didn’t see him put it in a box. I didn’t see him put it anywhere safe.’”

All Americans need to ensure that “our votes count,’’ Jill Biden said.

Joining Jill Biden during the online event was Hillary Clinton, who aired similar concerns about voting.

“Trump and the Republicans will do everything they can to prevent people from voting,” Clinton said. “That’s why they are against vote by mail. That’s why they passed these ridiculous laws to try to limit the electorate.”

Clinton noted that many states, and the military, already vote by mail. She predicted that vote by mail could be crucial in determining who wins in November, especially if the coronavirus pandemic gets worse in the fall.

Trump and his Republican allies have contended that expanding access to voting by mail could lead to vote fraud. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson highlighted those concerns Thursday, even as he signed into law a measure that will expand voting by mail in Missouri for the August and November elections because of the coronavirus.

Campaigns move more money-raising online

Thursday’s online Democratic fundraising event was held via a Zoom video conference. The event raised $750,000 for Biden’s campaign, said Joyce Aboussie, a St. Louis businesswoman and veteran Democratic activist who served as moderator.

The co-hosts included Bob Clark, CEO of ClayCo, a real estate and design/build firm, and Dave Peacock, president and COO of Schnuck Markets. 

Missouri allies of Trump also held a recent Zoom fundraiser, said GOP consultant James Harris, one of the attendees. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., was the headliner.

“Just like businesses and families, campaigns are adapting to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Harris said. “A lot of campaigns are using Zoom and other online communication platforms for fundraising and campaigning.”

That’s particularly true in urban areas, Harris added. He noted that some Republicans are still organizing small in-person events in rural areas, in part because there’s less access to the internet.

During the Democratic event, Clinton also warned that Biden supporters need to be aware of what’s circulating on the internet. She said her 2016 presidential campaign failed to recognize the extent of damage caused by false online attacks.

Protests and the coronavirus

Jill Biden started off Thursday’s call by noting how much had changed in just a few months.

She said that when the Missouri online event was first discussed, no one was imagining more than 110,000 deaths nationally due to the coronavirus “in just two and a half months, the more than 40 million Americans who have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began, and the horrific killing of George Floyd.”

“Our nation is in crisis. You know, we all feel it,” Jill Biden said. “The division, the political fights, the bigotry and the hate. And none of us can be silent in the face of such overwhelming injustice.

“As Joe said this week, we are a nation in pain,” Jill Biden continued. “But we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.”

Clinton said she was “thrilled to support Joe and Jill’’ and asked those on the call to help with the money and organization needed for a November victory.

“Everybody on this call knows what’s at stake,’’ Clinton said. She said everyone must “stand up for American values,’’ which include equality for all.

Clinton and Jill Biden fielded several questions from participants, spanning a variety of topics.

One caller said he was concerned that some people weren’t wearing masks.

Clinton jabbed Trump for refusing to wear a mask in public. “He’s such an insecure man, he thinks it will make him less than he believes he is,’’ Clinton said.

Correction: Dave Peacock is president and chief operating officer of Schnuck Markets. His title was incorrect in an earlier version of this article.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.