Saturday, as he had predicted all along, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) won a decisive victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary. Biden shifted his focus to Alabama on Sunday and returns to Alabama again on Monday as Super Tuesday looms.
Biden easily bested U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) garnering 50 percent of the vote versus Sanders’ 19 percent. On Sunday, Sanders and his allies, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Selma) praised the longtime Senator and former Vice President. Biden also has the endorsements of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Selma Mayor Dario Melton.
Biden had gotten destroyed in Iowa, finishing well behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sanders in Iowa. Biden was also a non-factor in New Hampshire, which was won by Sanders with Buttigieg finishing in a close second followed by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. Biden finished in second in Nevada, but was almost twenty points behind Sanders.
Biden and Jones spoke at several events in Selma on Sunday at the 55th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when then Governor George C. Wallace (D) ordered the then all-White Alabama State Troopers to use brute force to make voting rights marchers that had crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, horrifying the entire nation who saw the inexplicable brutality on their TV newscasts. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. then returned to Alabama and led a march from Selma to Montgomery under federal protection. The events in Selma 55 years ago led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the end of segregation.
Many of the speakers Sunday claimed that voter suppression is a problem today.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also spoke at events in Selma on Sunday.
Mayor Bloomberg told the audience at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma that the average Black family in America has a net worth of just ten percent of the net worth of the average White family. Bloomberg outlined an ambitious plan to improve the economic standing of Black Americans, including a plan to increase Black home ownership. If elected, Bloomberg would be the first Jewish President in American history.
Nine members of the audience stood up and turned their backs on Bloomberg during his speech. Bloomberg has been endorsed by the powerful Alabama Democratic Conference as well as by House Minority leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville).
Biden also spoke to the congregation and outlined his history of working with Black voters as Vice President and representing Delaware in the United States Senate. Biden said that growing up he also faced some discrimination as Catholic kid in a town that did not like Catholics. If elected, Biden would be just the second Catholic President in American history. Pres. John F. Kennedy (D) being the other.
Biden was not above criticism at the event. The Rev. Al Sharpton said “We are not interested in nicer masters” while turning towards Biden during his speech at Brown Chapel.
South Carolina and the cost of running campaigns in Super Tuesday narrowed the field. A number of enthusiastic supporters of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg were in the crowd in Selma on Sunday. He dropped out of the presidential race just hours after the reenactment of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Billionaire Tom Steyer also dropped out of the race ahead of Super Tuesday. Buttigieg stunned the nation with an extremely narrow victory in the Iowa Caucus and a close second place finish in the New Hampshire primary; but failed miserably in the Nevada Caucus and the South Carolina Primary. Conservative talk radio host and Medal of Freedom winner Rush Limbaugh had predicted after New Hampshire that America was not ready to see two gay men kissing on stage, referring to Mayor Pete and his husband. While Limbaugh’s comments were condemned as homophobic; his prediction that Latinos in Nevada and Blacks in South Carolina would balk at voting for a gay presidential candidate proved to be accurate.
Martin Luther King III, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and surviving “foot soldiers” from the bridge crossing were also in attendance on Sunday.
Democratic frontrunner U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) chose to focus his energies in other, more delegate rich, states than Alabama. Biden needs to win Alabama as well as other southern states if he is to be a credible threat to Sanders, who won New Hampshire, had a close second place finish in Iowa, won a landslide victory in Nevada, and was second in South Carolina. Warren is hoping to carry her home state of Massachusetts and begin accruing delegates with competitive finishes elsewhere. Her campaign has struggled to stay competitive to this point. Many Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and James Carville, have been openly critical of Sanders and his decades of openly advocating for socialism.
Famed voting rights protestor, who suffered a concussion from a police beating in Selma in 1965, Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) spoke to the crowd at the bridge crossing despite poor health from his fight with cancer. Many of the participants in the Brown Chapel service asked for prayers that God would heal Lewis. Lewis is a native of Troy.
The polls open at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7:00 p.m. You must vote at the polling place at which you are assigned and have a valid photo ID with you to participate.
(Original reporting by the Hill contributed to this report.)