Sen. Bernie Sanders made a surprise visit Tuesday to the Kansas and Missouri delegations at the Democratic National Convention.
To thunderous applause, Sanders thanked Kansas Democrats for backing his candidacy.
“Of the 50 states in the country, what is the first state that we visited during this process? Kansas,” he said. “We’re delighted to be here.”
Sanders never mentioned Hillary Clinton during 10 minutes of remarks to Kansas Democrats. He promised he would work to get more party money into states like Kansas, which is heavily Republican.
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“There is no reason why Democrats cannot be successful in Kansas,” he said.
He said he would work to involve more young people in local and state elections. “And then, when we elect people, they have got to follow through,” he said.
“If we raise the minimum wage, if we guarantee health care for all people, you know what people in Kansas will start to say? Government can actually do something for me.”
Sanders spoke briefly to the Missouri delegation next door, where his remarks were more direct. “Donald Trump is a disaster,” he said. “All of us have to do everything we can to elect Secretary Clinton.”
George Hanna, a Sanders delegate from Kansas, said he appreciated the visit, even if it didn’t convince him to support Clinton’s candidacy.
“I’ve always respected everything Bernie says,” Hanna told a reporter. “The fact that he’s so genuine is what his appeal has always been about.”
Sanders delegate Kelly Snyder agreed. “He’s just so inspiring,” she said. “His dedication to progress. He’s always saying it doesn’t come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up.”
Sanders’ backers in Missouri said Tuesday that the series of Monday night convention speeches helped push them closer to Clinton.
“It made me a little more enthusiastic about her,” said Levi Asher, a Sanders delegate from Farmington.
Of Sanders’ prime-time speech Monday night, Asher said: “It was a necessary move to go forward. I think by Thursday night, we’ll all be there.”
Sanders delegate Angela Rae English of St. Louis also said she expects to back Clinton in November.
“We absolutely do not want Donald Trump in the White House,” she said.
Brandon Baker, a 19-year-old Sanders delegate from Kansas City, said he can’t commit to voting for Clinton in the fall. He wants to see if she upholds some of the values that Sanders espoused during his campaign.
If she does, then Baker will consider backing Clinton.
“I’m all for party unity,” he said. “But party unity can’t be achieved if the candidate (Clinton) doesn’t try.”