U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander (D) was in Warrensburg this afternoon for a round table discussion with area veterans and family members. After the event he spoke with the media who were present, including the Kansas City Star, the Associated Press, and us.
Question: [on attack ads]
Jason Kander (D): Well, they’re not accurate. Senator Blunt’s entire approach here is to pretend that I have served in Congress….I think it’s pretty telling that after twenty years in Washington Senator Blunt has a campaign that’s about me. He doesn’t have accomplishments of his own to point to that would take up, you know, I mean, what, six of out his seven ads are about me? So, I just think that says a lot. And that maybe he recognizes that people are not satisfied with what he’s done in Washington so he just spends his time distorting my record and smearing who I am.
Question: You trying to distance yourself at all from Hillary Clinton?….Can you talk about how you feel voters should judge you in relation to the top of the ticket?
Jason Kander (D): Well, I think that in Missouri it’s pretty clear that what people do here is they judge candidates individually. That’s just what happens in Missouri. I mean, we’ve seen that, seen that in every election. I mean, the President lost by ten points in twenty-twelve on the same day that I won a statewide race. And that’s just, that’s just how Missourians vote the elections. They go down the ballot and they make choices. Uh, I, uh, have made it pretty clear in this race that the reason that I’m running is because Washington’s broken and we’re not gonna change Washington until we change the people we send there. And if you look, my message has not changed since day one. We announced this campaign on February nineteenth of twenty-fifteen before, I think, either of the two folks running for president were even running. And my message hasn’t changed from day one. And the reason that we’re in the lead right now is because over the course of time we’ve talked to enough people and our message has resonated.
Question: [crosstalk] Did you vote in the primary? Did you vote for Hillary Clinton?
Jason Kander (D): [without hesitation] Uh, yeah.
Question: [crosstalk] Um, but you haven’t talked a little, uh, much about Donald Trump’s relation to Roy Blunt. Is that a, uh, conscious decision? What, what do you think the voters should decide between Trump and Blunt, whether they’re connected?
Jason Kander (D): I think I’ve been pretty candid about the fact that Donald Trump’s not qualified to be president. And at the same time I’ve also pointed out that Donald Trump’s entire message is that people like Senator Blunt are the problem. So, you know, there’s a reason that, that folks are, I understand, I really do. I, I don’t think that Donald Trump’s qualified to be president and at the same time I understand why, at a time when the gridlock in Congress is now being reflected by gridlock in our national conversation, uh, that people are willing to consider somebody, uh, who represents to them changing the conversation and shaking things up, even, even though, in my opinion, that person shouldn’t be president and isn’t qualified for the job.
Question: Do you imagine picking up that sort of comparison and contrast with Trump and Blunt going forward? Or, or is this something, again, you want people to decide on either party?
Jason Kander (D): I, I know that Missourians are gonna base their choice for each, each office based on the candidates. That’s what they always do. And not based on candidates in other races. Senator Blunt knows that, too. And, uh, and so I guess for me it’s just pretty apparent. I mean, we, we’ve had events where, uh, folks, you come out of rally and there’s Trump supporters and Clinton supporters loudly arguing with one another, but they both just walked out of our rally. So, that’s I guess why we feel so confident that it’s really not about being one party or another. It’s, this campaign is about a new generation of leadership and that’s what people are looking for.
Question: How much pushback do you expect given the fact that, you know, a month ago this race really wasn’t where it is today? We have another month to go and Republicans are dumping huge amounts of money into this race. [crosstalk] Huge. [laughter] Large, okay. Huge. [crosstalk] Uh, it’s a commonly used word. [laughter] I mean, you know, we’re basically starting even now with a month to go. How, how nasty do you expect it to get?
Jason Kander (D): I’ll just say this – that, we’ve known from the beginning that for twenty years special interests have been making some pretty big investments in Senator Blunt and those investments have been paying off for them. He does whatever they tell him to do. He wakes up every morning in Washington thinking about what he can do for the special interests that are funding his campaign and his lifestyle. I’ve known from the moment that I announced that I was getting into this race that those special interests where gonna do anything they possibly could to make sure they continue to get a return on that investment they’ve made in Senator Blunt. And the problem that Senator Blunt has is Missourians know that, too. And that’s why we’re so confident and that’s why we have all the momentum in this race. And we have a great grassroots broad based level of support. One report said that ninety-four percent of the folks who have given to this campaign have given a hundred dollars or less. I read somewhere that that number for Senator Blunt is two percent. So, we’re real confident about where we are and I’m sure that they’re gonna do everything they can to try and save the investment they’ve literally made in Senator Blunt. But I know we’re gonna win.
Question: You imagine, you think there’s gonna be a lot of money coming in at the end…? I mean, you know, there’s some, Pennsylvania’s sixty, seventy million bucks and you’re not gonna get that kind of money in Missouri, but there’s gonna be a lot of money here in the end.
Jason Kander (D):: Missouri is a state where…
Question: Koch brothers. You worried about the Koch brothers coming in? AFP? Any of the… [crosstalk] Club for Growth?
Jason Kander (D): I think they’re pretty worried about me. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. I, I, I’ll just tell you this. Missouri is a state where when you have the resources to compete and get your message out then you have as good a shot as anybody else. And we’ve had success with the broad based grassroots campaign. We, we have the resources that we need to get our message out. Uh, and that’s what it’s gonna take to win, so.
Question: Are you concerned about the debate discussion, which apparently he doesn’t want to debate, that’s the allegation you guys have made.
Jason Kander (D): I think we owe it to Missourians to have more debates. We had one. Apparently he didn’t have a very good time. I thought it was really good for the state and I enjoyed it. Uh, I hope that he agrees to more. We’ve already accepted invitations for three more. You know, initially we said there should be ten. There’s nine media markets, let’s have a televised one in every media market. Uh, it’s unfortunate that after twenty years in Washington Senator Blunt doesn’t want to stand on a stage and defend his record.
Campaign staff: Thank you.
Voices: Thank you.