Garry Ellard searches for friends in Birmingham, Ala., April 28, 2011.
Garry Ellard searches for friends in Birmingham, Ala., April 28, 2011. Butch Dill/AP
President Obama will visit Alabama Friday to see first-hand the damage done by a massive outbreak of tornadoes that killed more than 200 people Wednesday.
In a statement, the White House press office said besides inspecting the devastation, the president will meet with state and local officials, including Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
That is the same Bentley who caused a hubbub earlier this year when he said non-Christians weren't his brothers, a statement for which he later apologized.
In any event, the planned presidential visit to Alabama continues a pattern of the Obama presidency that some have noted. The president's visits to states that are red on the political map tend to come after disasters or high-profile deaths. He visited Alabama last year, for instance, after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
As Margaret Talev and Chris Adams of the McClatchey newspaper chain noted earlier this month:
Of the dozen states that Obama has yet to visit as president, all voted Republican in the last presidential election except for tiny, and reliably Democratic, Vermont, which has only three electoral votes.
Many of Obama's visits to red states have come in the context of tragedies or deaths that held the nation's attention: Oil spill or hurricane-related concerns required presidential trips to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The president's two visits in 2010 to West Virginia were memorial services for miners and the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd.
Ironically, because he intends to visit Alabama in the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes, White House officials postponed the president's hosting of the national championship Auburn University football team which was scheduled for Friday.