STLtoday: Kander targets Trump during New Hampshire address that sounded like a potential 2020 stump speech

NASHUA, N.H. • Jason Kander took sharp aim at President Donald Trump on Saturday night as he headlined a major Democratic Party dinner in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first presidential primary.

The former Missouri secretary of state and founder of Let America Vote, a voting rights group, claimed that “right now, white supremacists and the KKK are literally on the march, displaying for everybody their horrific views that they once thought they had to hide. Why? Because they are emboldened by a president that says they are very fine people.”

Kander added: “We deserve to have a commander-in-chief who at least has the courage to stand up to the KKK and Nazis.”

Asked by reporters after the dinner if he believes that Trump’s a racist, Kander responded that Trump “certainly has said a lot of racist things and he is either that or he is a coward because he doesn’t have the ability to stand up to the KKK and the Nazis.”

The visit was Kander’s 10th to New Hampshire over the past year. Let America Vote — which Kander set up after narrowly losing Missouri’s 2016 U.S. Senate election to incumbent Republican Roy Blunt — has been involved in pushing back against Republican-led legislation in New Hampshire that Democrats label voter suppression efforts.

Kander and his organization have weighed in with funding and grass-roots organizing in several state legislative special elections and municipal elections in the Granite State over the past year.

“We have to show the country that voter suppression ain’t going to fly here or anywhere else in America.”

Kander, a veteran of Afghanistan war, criticized both Trump and New Hampshire’s Republican governor. “I volunteered to serve in the Army because I wanted to protect the rights and freedoms our nation has to offer, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to come home and watch Chris Sununu and Donald Trump try to take those rights away.”

The comments elicited a standing ovation from the audience of 600 people.

Kander told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other news organizations that “it’s about time that any politician in the country that thinks that they’re going to win elections by making it so that people who don’t want to vote for them can’t vote, I think it’s time that they start losing elections as a result.”

Kander, who’s considered a potential Democratic presidential contender, made no reference to any White House ambitions during his address, which sounded very much like a potential 2020 stump speech.

He told reporters that “it’s something that people keep asking me about and have for a little while and obviously yes, that makes me think about it.”

And he added that after November’s midterm elections “I’ll consider my options.”

Asked why he chose Kander, New Hampshire Party Chairman Ray Buckley emphasized “it’s important that we do what we can to bring up the next generation of leaders and showcase them and I think our next president is going to be somebody that’s under 55 and I think we need to start getting to know them.”

New Hampshire Young Democrats President Lucas Meyer said that Kander’s numerous trips to the Granite State could “pay dividends” if he decides to run for the White House “because he’s going to have relationships, he’s going to prove that he cares about the state and the issues and that he showed up for them.”

Kander had some home-state support as he gave his speech. A Missouri delegation that attended the dinner included state Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber, Kansas City Mayor Sly James, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, and state Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.

The state party dinner was televised live nationally by C-SPAN.

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