A tale of two rallies

Eliot Fuller, Co-Editor

Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both stopped by St. Louis ahead of the Missouri primary, which was held on March 10. In the days leading up to the election, most Missouri polls showed Biden and Sanders in a deadlock, making St. Louis a battleground for the candidates.    

The first of the two events was held by Joe Biden, the current frontrunner in the Democratic race. The rally took place on March 7 at Kiener Plaza in Downtown St. Louis. Supporters began to shuffle in early, hoping to reserve a good spot to watch the former Vice President speak. The mood was generally positive and optimistic, making the 60 degree weather and cloudless sky quite fitting. A handful of fans wore merchandise from Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, while others wore blue shirts reading “Biden 2020.” Many flocked to tables selling Biden pins, shirts and signs, while others spent their free time arguing with conservative protesters who held anti-Biden signs. His crowd was predominantly older and fairly diverse. The Biden campaign later stated that their event drew in 1,521 people. 

By 11:30 am, the crowd had fully formed, and guest speakers, including St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, addressed the crowd. Mayor Lyda Krewson was also in attendance, showing support for the former Vice President.

At around 12:30 pm, Biden finally took to the podium, framed by the Gateway Arch. 

“Talk about a dramatic backdrop,” Biden said, turning to admire the monument. 

During his seven-minute speech, the 77-year-old called out both President Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders, touted his Super Tuesday victories, stressed the importance of voting, detailed his vision for the country and described the various things he planned to do as president. 

Two days later, on March 9, Bernie Sanders held a campaign rally at the Stifel Theater in downtown St. Louis. The event took place just minutes away from the location of Biden’s, and featured a near sellout crowd, generating more noise and enthusiasm than the former vice president. According to the Sanders campaign, 2,850 people attended the event. Nearly everyone wore their Bernie merchandise, while hundreds of people bought shirts, pins and bucket hats from small tables lined up outside the theater. 

Sanders attracted a much younger crowd, a trend that is reflected in most polls. Compared to Biden’s event, there was less overall diversity, and very few older supporters. 

Sanders was introduced by Cori Bush, a Missouri candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Sander’s speech lasted almost 45 minutes, and the candidate touched on all of his policy proposals, denouncing the notion that his ideas are impractical. He stressed the importance of voter turnout, and declared that he is the candidate who can make that turnout happen. 

After his speech, Sanders was met by supporters outside as he left the city in his motorcade. The Missouri presidential primary took place on March 10 and Biden won 43 of 68 delegates with Sanders taking the rest.