News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Speeches in Selma will be a preview of coming attractions

While the national spotlight will be on Selma on Sunday when two of the leading Democratic candidates for president speak, there is a hint of politics at work.

If not, would Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama address separate audiences at the same time in tiny Selma?

Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are such big-name draws that schedulers could have found a way for people to hear both candidates. In other words, they could have arranged for them not to speak at 10 a.m. at locations a few doors apart.

Their appearances in Selma are twofold. The first is to participate in the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, held to commemorate the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, but they have heavy political overtones. The black vote is vital to winning the state's Feb. 5 Democratic primary, and the presidential nomination, making Selma a good place to launch a state campaign.

The prevailing assumption is that black Democrats prefer either Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton for president. Alabama could be a good test of that theory.

The state's early primary comes after the Iowa caucus Jan. 14, the Nevada caucus Jan. 20, and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries Jan. 22 and 29.

Delaware, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah and New Jersey also hold primaries on that date. South Carolina and Alabama, however, are the first tests in the South, unless Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia bump their primaries up to Feb. 5, also.

Presently, though, the focus is on Selma as a hint of what's in store for the state over the next 11 months.

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