In competition for a key Democratic voting bloc, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is enlisting the help of her husband, former President Clinton, at a weekend civil rights commemoration headlined by a formidable black rival, Sen. Barack Obama.
Clinton and Obama, the party's top 2008 presidential contenders, will be in Selma, Ala., Sunday to observe the 42nd anniversary of a civil rights march that helped end racial segregation in the South. Obama is scheduled to deliver the day's keynote address at a Selma church that morning, with Sen. Clinton speaking at another church nearby.
But late Thursday, the Clinton campaign announced that the former president would join his wife in a symbolic march across the Edmund Pettus bridge, where civil rights workers were beaten by state troopers in 1965. Obama also will participate in the march, along with civil rights activists and others.
The family Clinton
Bill Clinton also will be inducted that day in the National Voting Rights Hall of Fame - another high-profile opportunity for the Clintons to grab the spotlight from the charismatic Obama.
The joint appearance marks the first time the Clintons have appeared together publicly since she announced her candidacy in January.
Normally, Clinton might not worry much about the support of black voters after serving eight years as first lady in a White House that enjoyed legendary popularity among blacks. Bill Clinton was dubbed "the first black president" by author Toni Morrison, and Hillary Clinton has enjoyed strong support from black voters - a critical Democratic constituency - as a senator and presidential contender.
But that popularity is being challenged by Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois who some believe has a real chance at becoming the nation's first black president.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the more people who attend the anniversary events, the better.