King Day Politics

ATLANTA (AP) _ Two former governors of Arkansas, one who ascended to the White House and the other who aspires to get there, were among the political heavyweights who crowded into historic
Ebenezer Baptist Church today to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

Former President Bill Clinton and Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee sat at opposite ends of the front-row pew at the church where King once preached. They were flanked by members of the King family and hundreds of other observers, politicians and civil rights leaders who crowded the church.

Declared Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin "Georgia is on the mind of the next president of the United States.''

King's nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr. noted the King Center has asked the nation to commemorate his birthday for 40 years, for more years than the civil rights leader lived.

Clinton and Huckabee joined U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, Johnny
Isakson and dozens of other politicians attending the ceremony. Also attending was Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.

King's actual 79th birthday was January 15, but the federal observance is recognized on the third Monday in January.

The holiday has been observed at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached from 1960 until 1968, every year since his death. But it holds a new political significance this week because it falls closer to major primary elections than ever before, since many states moved the elections up to jockey for influence.

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