By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, September 29, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Selma) announced former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-New York) will be in Alabama to address the influential Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) on October 17.
US Representative Terri Sewell said on Facebook, “I am honored and excited to welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton to the great state of Alabama. Secretary Clinton is eminently qualified to hold the office of the Presidency, and I was proud to make my endorsement of her early in the election cycle!”
Clinton served as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term. Prior to that she served in the United States Senate representing the State of New York. She was First Lady for two terms from 1993 to 2001 while her husband Bill Clinton (D) was President. Prior to that she was the First Lady in Arkansas while Bill was the Governor. Clinton is an attorney and was a counsel for Congressional Democrats in the Watergate hearings. She ran for President of the United States in 2008, but Democratic Primary voters ultimately selected her colleague, Senator Barack H. Obama (D-Illinois) to be their nominee.
Polls show Hillary leading the current Democratic field. Her closest Democratic challenger appears to be Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). Sanders has already appeared in Alabama, speaking this summer to a group of 400 left leaning political activists in Birmingham. There is still a possibility that Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) will enter the race.
On Monday Clinton called President Obama’s Syrian rebel training program, which has yet to produce a rebel army to fight Assad and ISIS, a failure. The former Secretary of State told Chuck Todd, “I can’t sit here and tell you that if we had done what I and General Petraeus and Secretary Panetta and others had recommended, we would have made more progress on the ground. I obviously thought so at the time, because as we look back, the people who were fighting Assad were, you know, they were businesspeople. They were students. They were professionals who had risen up against his tyrannical rule that had really kept so much of Syria under his thumb, and before him, his father’s thumb. If we had been able to move in, to help organize and support those people on the ground, maybe we could’ve made a difference. Well, we’ve got to deal with where we are right now. It’s obviously now a different set of circumstances. And what the Pentagon has been doing hasn’t worked.”
Sec. Clinton said that it will be very difficult to defeat the Islamic State if Assad is still in power. “I think that we’re going to have to, as they say, walk and chew gum at the same time. But one of the challenges is that a lot of the groups that are fighting on the ground, their primary focus is still Assad.” Clinton warned that the growing Russian force in Syria is primarily to defend the Syrian president, and fighting terrorists comes second.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) has been recruiting Presidential candidates to come to Alabama all summer. In addition to Sanders and Clinton on the Democratic side, Republican contenders: Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. John Kasich, surgeon and author Ben Carson, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, and Gov. Jeb Bush have all campaigned in Alabama over the summer. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will visit Florence, Sylacauga, Selma, and Dothan on Thursday, October 1.
The Alabama Democratic Conference, formerly known as the Black Political Caucus of Alabama, was established in 1960. It was founded to encourage all voters, but especially other African Americans, to vote for the Democratic candidate, who at the time was John F. Kennedy with vice president Lyndon B. Johnson. The founders of this influential group include Arthur Shores, Rufus Lewis, Dr. C.G. Gomillion, Q. D. Adams, Isom Clemon, and Beulah Johnson. The Alabama Democratic Conference now promotes the Democratic Party throughout the entire state thanks to having many chapters and other affiliated organizations. The stated mission of the Alabama Democratic Conference is to “organize” and to “unify” the vote of the African American population and also to make the African American vote and opinion appreciated and respected. Prior to the ADC most Blacks in Alabama (when they could vote) supported Republicans due to President Abraham Lincoln’s (R) freeing of the slaves and Republican efforts during Reconstruction to bring the recent freedmen into full participation into American Society. Today the ADC is headed by retired Alabama Education Association (AEA) executive Joe Reed.
Reed has been extremely powerful in Alabama Democratic Party politics for a very long time.
(Original reporting by Politico’s Eliza Collins contributed to this report)