Kerry Courts Blacks with Ads, Convention Speaker
Wednesday, July 14, 2004; 4:13 PM
By Rolando Garcia
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender
John Kerry on Wednesday appealed to blacks with a new
advertising campaign and by giving a rising African American
political star a prime convention speaking spot.
The campaign announced $2 million worth of advertising
targeting black voters, one of the Democratic party's most
loyal constituencies who shunned President Bush in the 2000
A campaign spokesman also said Barack Obama, an Illinois
state legislator running for the U.S. Senate, will deliver the
party convention's keynote address in Boston on Tuesday, July
Although little-known outside Illinois, Obama, a
Harvard-trained Chicago attorney, has won rave reviews from
Washington insiders for his charisma and cross-racial appeal.
Blacks, who constituted 10 percent of the electorate in
2000, voted 9 to 1 for Democrat Al Gore in that year's
presidential election. Increasing black turnout, especially in
battleground states such as Florida, will be a key component of
Kerry's strategy to rally the Democratic base.
"We recognize we must engage the African American community
early in this campaign," said Alexis Herman, a Kerry campaign
The ads, which emphasize the issues of jobs and health
care, will run in key battleground states and major cities,
targeting African-American radio stations and newspapers, as
well as television.
The ads feature a black male voice-over and African
Americans asking "What can (Kerry) do for my community?"
Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said the new
advertising effort was the largest of its kind in presidential
campaign history. But it is a relatively small expenditure by a
campaign that has reported raising $180 million.
Obama is favored to win in November, becoming only the
third African American to be elected to the Senate since the
19th century. A sex scandal forced his Republican opponent to
Keynote convention addresses have helped propel figures
such as former President Bill Clinton and former New York
governor Mario Cuomo onto the national political stage.
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