Senate candidates Kander and Blunt hold events in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Democratic and Republican candidates for Missouri's open senate seat made campaign stops in Columbia on Thursday.

Secretary of State Jason Kander joined veterans and military family members at a residential home to listen and share stories of service members returning home. Kander is a veteran of Afghanistan.

Roy Blunt, Missouri's republican candidate for Senate, held a much larger, high security event at MidwayUSA in Columbia. Police surrounded the entire perimeter of the venue.

In the intimate, open table discussion, the attendees at Kander's event went around the table and shared difficulties they've encountered as they re-entered society from active military duty. 

Kander said the listening session was a great opportunity to talk about the special challenges and opportunities veterans face. He added there is a need for more veterans in Congress. 

"As I get around the state, including here in Columbia, and talk to my fellow veterans, what I repeatedly hear from folks is that they understand that what we really need is more folks in Congress who have voluntarily been through something in their life that is harder than a re-election campaign," he said.  "And it’s not a coincidence that at a time where we have the fewest veterans in Congress that we’ve had since World War Two, we have so few people who actually fit that criteria."

At Blunt's event, two leaders from the National Rifle Association (NRA) joined him to publicly endorsed his candidacy. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La Pierre and NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox both spoke to the crowd before Blunt took the stage.

La Pierre and Cox praised Blunt's commitment to protecting Second Amendment rights. 

"I'm here today, I know all of you are here today, to support Senator Blunt because he's out there fighting everyday with character, for the kind of values and freedoms that make this country, our country, the greatest nation in all of mankind," La Pierre said. 

Blunt emphasized the importance of this election. 

"This is not about a four-year presidential term, or a six-year Senate term. It's about a generation of Supreme Court judges. The next president and the next Senate in all likelihood will build, certainly two, possibly three, maybe four judges to the court," Blunt said. 

He added, "We are a country built on opportunity, on the idea that people are bigger than the government. That's at stake right now," Blunt said. 

Blunt and Kander both easily won their primary elections on August 2. They face off in the general election on Nov. 8.