Biden strikes hopeful tone, touts successes at Park City fundraiser
The president stopped in Park City on the last day of his tour of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.
President Joe Biden spoke for over half an hour at a fundraising event in The Colony Thursday afternoon. He touted the accomplishments of his first term in office to make the case for a second, and he took questions from the audience.
Attendees KPCW spoke with said the president seemed optimistic about the United States’ future.
“The President struck me as a very hopeful person,” said Diego Zegarra, Park City Community Foundation Vice President of Equity and Impact. “He talked a little bit about how, if we were to come together, we could accomplish anything.”
Parkite Jill Sheinberg and her daughter Annabel were also in the crowd. They said Biden said the country is in a moment where change is truly possible and a chance like that only comes around once every six generations.
“It was great to hear him recap his accomplishments, and it made the case very well for him to have an additional term,” Annabel Sheinberg said.
Jill Sheinberg said Biden seemed “vigorous.” Although he was running late, she said it seemed like everyone who paid to meet the president got their chance, and he took questions from the audience after making his speech.
All in all, the president’s program ran just under an hour.
His hosts were Nancy and Mark Gilbert, who is the former ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, and Kristi and John Cumming, who founded POWDR, the company that owns Woodward, Snowbird and formerly Park City Mountain.
The event was at the Gilberts’ home in The Colony. About 150 people were there, according to the attendees KPCW spoke with, who complimented the hosts.
Jill Sheinberg said Nancy Gilbert in particular had some great stories to keep the crowd entertained while the president was en route.
“She should be given some kind of show of her own,” Jill said.
Biden spoke earlier that morning at the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City to mark the first anniversary of the PACT Act, which expanded care for veterans exposed to toxic substances.
Former Summit County Councilmember and Democratic congressional candidate Glenn Wright attended. He said the president took his time meeting everyone at the VA.
“I was one of probably 100 people trying to shake his hand and get a little bit of time with him,” Wright said.
A veteran at the medical center told KPCW there were mostly politicians in the room with Biden, while they and other veterans waited in the lobby.
“This really feels rude at best,” they wrote. “While I love you Dems and all you do, you should have advised his team to have it mostly veterans.”
Wright, a Vietnam War Air Force veteran himself, said the woman who introduced the president’s speech was an Army sergeant deployed to Iraq in 2019. She had been exposed to burn pits, a method of waste disposal on military bases.
“Just last year, [she] was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which is one of the indicative diseases,” Wright said.
Authorities closed lanes on Interstate 80 shortly after noon to prepare for the motorcade to climb Parleys Canyon. The president left the VA closer to 1 p.m.
Traffic backed up significantly around the Snyderville Basin. Both I-80 and state Route 224 closed while the motorcade came and went.
The motorcade drove back down the canyon at around 3:45 p.m.
“The short amount of time that he was here, I think everything went well,” said Summit County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Kacey Bates.
“There was a lot of coordination between a lot of different departments, and I think everything went really smoothly.”
Hours before Biden landed in Utah Wednesday, FBI agents served arrest and search warrants on a Provo man, whom they shot and killed. The suspect allegedly had posted direct threats on the president’s life to Facebook earlier in the week.
Biden left Utah Thursday afternoon on Air Force One to return to Washington, D.C.