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During a speech Saturday at the Alabama Democratic Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, Hillary Clinton condemned the governor’s plan to close 31 driver’s license offices.
The 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner said it was an effort by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to crush the African-American vote by limiting access to state IDs and enforcing the state’s restrictive voter ID laws, according to aides.
After drawing heavy criticism from other Democrats and voting rights advocates across the state, Bentley on Friday walked back part of the decision, “saying that the offices would open in the affected areas once a month,” according to The Washington Post. But Clinton said that still wasn’t good enough.
“Here in Alabama, without the right kind of ID, it’s nearly impossible to vote,” she said, according to a transcript at her campaign web site. “I followed when Gov. Bentley and his administration closed 31 driver’s license offices across the state. They include every county where African Americans make up 75 percent of the voters. The closings will make getting license and personal identification cards much harder for many African Americans, particularly the elderly, erecting a big barrier to voting.”
Bentley claimed the move was part of a cost-cutting effort to save money in the state. But Rep. Terri A. Sewell, the only Democratic member of Alabama’s congressional delegation, called for a Department of Justice probe, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson recently met with Bentley to discuss the decision, notes the Post.
Clinton also called for the restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was eviscerated by a 2013 Supreme Court decision. The ruling struck down a key provision that freed nine states, mostly in the South that had a history of violating voting rights, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.
Clinton’s appeal to Gov. Bentley comes on the heels of a critically acclaimed performance last week at the first Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But her strong performance did not boost her chances of winning the party’s nomination, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Monday.
Clinton stands at 45% in the race for the Democratic nomination, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders behind her at 29%. Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering a run for presidency and did not participate in last week’s debate, follows at 18%….
Compared with pre-debate polling, Sanders’ support is up five points since mid-September, but no other candidate showed significant change.
The poll also shows that among Democratic voters who watched the debate, Sanders and Biden are viewed more favorably than they are among Democratic voters in general. Clinton’s numbers are about the same in both groups.
Despite their positive feelings toward Biden, debate-watchers are more apt than others to say Biden should stay out of the contest (61% think he should not run, compared with 43% of those who did not watch) and they are far more likely to be satisfied with the Democratic field generally (84% compared with 64% among those who didn’t watch).
Meanwhile, Biden is still weighing whether he should throw his hat into the ring, speaking over the weekend with Harold A. Schaitberger, the president of the powerful International Association of Firefighters. A source familiar with the discussion told CNN that Biden “strongly indicated in the phone conversation that he is planning to run for president.”
President Barack Obama is remaining mum about whatever he knows regarding the decision. When asked about it at a news conference on Friday, he said, “I’m not going to comment on what Joe’s doing or not doing. I think you can direct those questions to my very able vice president.”
For her part, Clinton also said the decision is up to Biden.
What do you think, should Biden run for president? Let us know in the comments and take our poll.
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