Editor’s note: President Joe Biden came to Utah Wednesday and Thursday to tout his work to help veterans and to attend a fundraiser on his behalf in Park City. Scott Howell, a former Democratic leader in the Utah Senate and former candidate for the U.S. Senate, helped coordinate the visit and attended the event in Park City. Here are his observations.

It was a wonderful opportunity to be with our friend Joe Biden. Listening to the president share anecdotes about his friends Jake Garn, Orrin Hatch and Mitt Romney, along with the Senate camaraderie they enjoyed while collaborating on policies that served all citizens, was an absolute delight. 

Joe also touched upon his relationship with Gary Herbert, particularly during Herbert’s time as president of the National Governor’s Association.

He also mentioned Spencer Cox and their differing opinions on the monument issue. Interestingly, their conversation during the ride from the airport to his hotel proved to be a mutually beneficial exchange. I firmly believe the president aims to serve as a bridge builder and collaborator, seeking common ground and genuine cooperation.

Regrettably, the far-left and far-right positions constrain his ability to navigate a narrow path, making it highly challenging to navigate the middle ground between the extremes within each party.

Biden said he’s had several congressional Republicans tell him they agree with some of his actions, but they can’t publicly say so because it will lead to them being challenged and defeated in primary elections.

“This division is really, really hurting America,” the president said. “The MAGA Republicans are trying to take us back to places that the majority of Republicans don’t even want to go.”

During his speech, he described driving throughout the country and seeing pro-Trump political flags with an expletive the president spelled out “and little kids standing there.” Some children, Biden said, have held up their middle fingers at him as he passed. 

The president’s tone unmistakably carried a sense of sorrow regarding such behavior.

Earlier in the day he addressed the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs health center regarding the PACT Act and additional benefits provided to military veterans to address health issues arising from burn pits and toxic exposures.

He provided extensive information regarding the tragedy of burn pits and agent orange. His account of the process used to dispose of these substances was both unsettling and distressing. Fortunately, the military now has revised guidance and protocols to address such problems in the future.

While discussing his late son Beau and veterans’ health, Biden, whose father was an Army officer who passed away from brain cancer, took pauses to compose himself during conversation with us. 

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Joe also addressed the topic of the Supreme Court. While he expressed opposition to court packing, he emphasized the importance of establishing an ethical and moral code of conduct for the justices.

His insights on Vladimir Putin’s long-term strategy to dismantle NATO were thought-provoking and somber. Joe expressed concerns that the former president might reduce funding to Ukraine, ultimately aligning with Putin’s goal of undermining NATO.

The event was at a residence in Park City, and it is nothing short of breathtaking. POTUS, looking around the home while he was speaking, made this observation: “The best way to make sure that families are able to live in places like this, and … the wealthy to do very well, is if the middle class does well and the poor have a way up,” Biden said, after saying he’s “never been a big fan of trickle-down economics.”

After listening to Joe and having a close-up interaction, any worries about his mental acuity were dispelled. Both my wife, Linda, and I noticed that although he’s 80 years old, Joe remains mentally sharp. While he displayed a spry demeanor, his age was apparent, as is natural.

Joe’s words were inspiring. His hope and faith came through loud and clear. 

Reflecting on the past few days, the adrenaline rush has subsided, and the reality has set in, leaving us quite drained, but very hopeful for the future of America. I stand by my support for Joe, if Trump becomes the nominee. 

As Joe left the premises, ascending the stairs toward the door, he unexpectedly paused and turned back to the crowd. He shared an intimate memory, saying, “Whenever I left our house, my father would tell me, ‘Joey, keep the faith,’ and my grandmother would always counter, ‘No, no, Joey, spread the faith.’”

With those words, he bid us all, “God bless you all,” and stepped out the door. This powerful conclusion marked the end of a remarkable adventure.