The bruising Democratic presidential primary campaign elevated the importance of Mississippi's 40 convention delegates when Sen. Hillary Clinton, to the surprise of many pundits, won three of four state primaries in Tuesday's voting.
In particular, Clinton's victories in Ohio and Texas have created a wave of campaign activity heading into next Tuesday's primary voting in Mississippi.
Sen. Clinton speaks tonight at the Jefferson-Jackson-Hamer Day event in Jackson, an annual party celebration.
Former President Bill Clinton has scheduled speeches Friday in Tupelo, Meridian and Hattiesburg in search of votes that could give his wife a larger proportionate share of the Mississippi delegates. The state has 33 regular Democratic delegates and seven superdelegates – whose voting choices are entirely their own.
Sen. John McCain's wrap-up of the Republican nomination in winning Texas on Tuesday arguably takes an edge off that ballot, but strongly contested congressional primary races in the 1st and 3rd Districts' open seats provide persuasive reason for state GOP voters to turn out.
In addition, Mississippi's McCain supporters may want to affirm his nomination because he has deep ancestral ties in our state.
Tupelo through the years has been visited by other presidential candidates or their campaigners.
Former President Harry Truman campaigned in Tupelo in 1960 in behalf of John F. Kennedy and loyalist Democrats. Sen. Walter Mondale spoke in Tupelo during his 1984 run against incumbent Republican Ronald Reagan.
Vice President George H.W. Bush, already running for the 1988 nomination, spoke in Tupelo for Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Reed, Sr., in 1987.
Jimmy Carter stumped in Tupelo and Oxford during his nomination campaign in 1976; vice presidential hopeful Sargent Shriver sought votes in 1972 as George McGovern's running mate, and Republican Pat Buchanan spoke in Tupelo on his own behalf.
Mississippi, whose voting falls after Super Tuesday and primaries like Texas and Ohio, sometimes gets lost in the fog of delegate counting, and sometimes the expected outcomes are virtually meaningless because nomination races are decided or nearly so.
The Clinton-Obama contest enters its most crucial run for additional delegates with Mississippi's primary.
Obama, because more than half the Democratic base in our state is African-American, is heavily favored. The Clintons, however, are well-connected in Mississippi because of personal friendships, party ties and cooperative work during his terms as governor of Arkansas. One of President Clinton's great-grandfathers is buried in Tippah County.
The exposure, whatever the party, is good for our state. It raises the profile of who we are and how our state is competing in the 21st century economy – and in deciding who will lead our country in the next presidential term.