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Black wing of state’s Democratic Party endorses Clinton

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

HOOVER — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton won the endorsement Saturday of the black wing of the Alabama Democratic Party by capitalizing on long friendships that Barack Obama couldn’t match.

The Alabama Democratic Conference endorsed Clinton by an overwhelming voice vote moments after she addressed the audience of some 700. No other candidate was nominated for an endorsement.

An ADC member, Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison of Huntsville, said Obama was the sentimental favorite for him and many others, but Clinton was the practical choice.

“This is the political reality of what the outcome is going to be for the Democratic nomination,” he said.

Obama regional organizer Anthony Johnson passed out Obama buttons outside the event and predicted strong black support for the Illinois senator in Alabama’s presidential primary on Feb. 5.

“We have a lot of anonymous support,” he said.

ADC Chairman Joe Reed passed out Clinton stickers before the vote and described her as “the next president of the United States.” He said Clinton benefited from long friendships first developed when her husband was governor of Arkansas and also from a belief that she is more electable than Obama, who campaigned in Iowa on Saturday.

“Democrats are hungry for victory,” he said.

Clinton stressed those friendships, especially Reed’s relationship with her and President Clinton.

“He was in and out of the White House telling us what to do all the time,” she said.

The state’s other predominantly black political group, the Alabama New South Coalition, meets Dec. 1 to make its endorsement.

Byrdie Larkin, a political scientist at historically black Alabama State University, said Obama is strongest with voters 18 to 30, and that age group is least likely to follow an ADC endorsement.

“You are going to see individual blacks, particularly the 18 to 30 crowd, break with traditional black organizations,” she said.

David Lanoue, chairman of the political science department at The University of Alabama, said the ADC endorsement reflects years of good will built up by President Clinton and his wife.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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