Salt Lake City supporters of Joe Biden this weekend will have a chance to ask what it’s like to be the sibling of the Democratic presidential candidate.
Valerie Biden Owens, the former vice president’s sister, will be appearing for a Saturday morning meet-and-greet at Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen on Gallivan Avenue.
Jeff Stern, a volunteer with Utah for Biden, said Biden Owens will be speaking about how her brother has been an advocate for women. Biden Owens is a political strategist who has led her brother’s political campaigns for U.S. Senate and for the presidency. She has also served as a board member with the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee.
"We're lucky to have her here," said Stern, a Summit County Democrat.
Scott Howell, former Utah Senate minority leader who helped organize the event, said Biden Owens is “witty” and her brother’s “No. 1 adviser.”
Her visit will be one of several from the Biden campaign over the 2020 campaign, Howell predicted. He said the recent decision by lawmakers to move Utah’s presidential primary election to Super Tuesday has elevated the state’s strategic importance to presidential candidates.
“We’re a national player now,” he said.
The candidate himself held a private campaign fundraiser in Park City in late September, his first visit to Utah since announcing his 2020 bid. Stern said that swanky fundraiser — with tickets costing up to $2,800 — drew about 200 people.
At the invitation-only gathering, Biden did not mention the impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats and focused instead on President Donald Trump’s rants against immigrants, the rise of white supremacist groups and a foreign policy of supporting oppressive regimes.
Biden also spoke at the University of Utah last December while on a tour promoting his memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.” That was several months before the official start of his presidential campaign, but the book was interpreted by some as an indication that the longtime U.S. senator from Delaware would launch a Democratic bid for the nation’s highest office.
This weekend’s event, set to begin at 10 a.m. and last for one hour, will be free and open to all, Stern said.
Stern, a self-described centrist, said the presidential contest has polarized Utah's Democrats, with Biden facing some aggressive criticism from within his own party.
"I've been kind of taken aback by it because I've always viewed the Democratic Party as an open tent party," Stern said.
A new national poll showed Biden is neck-and-neck with two of his Democratic rivals, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The Monmouth University survey had Biden and Warren each at 23% support, while Sanders was at 20%, according to POLITICO.