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Archive for Monday, October 11, 2004

Kerry courts black voter turnout

October 11, 2004

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— With just three Sundays left before Election Day, Sen. John Kerry is asking for all the help he can get from black voters and the Almighty.

The Democratic presidential nominee attended two church services Sunday, instead of his usual one, worshipping first with Haitian Catholics and then with Baptists, where the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton tied his election to the civil rights struggle.

"We have an unfinished march in this nation," Kerry said at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, as many congregants waved fans handed out by the campaign with his slogan, "Hope is on the way."

"Never again will a million African-Americans be denied the right to exercise their vote in the United States of America," Kerry promised, referring to the disputed Florida recount in the 2000 presidential race. As he often does before black audiences, Kerry said he had a legal team that would aggressively respond to any allegations of disenfranchisement.

Black turnout is key to Kerry's plan for victory in Florida and elsewhere; less than 10 percent of black voters nationally supported President Bush in 2000. But Kerry's campaign says there have been efforts to turn religious blacks against him based on his support for abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples.

Prominent support

Jackson told worshippers their political concerns were issues that touched their everyday lives, not gay marriage.

"I see disturbing signs today that some of our churches have been confused by wolves in sheep's clothing," Jackson said. "How did someone else put their agenda in the front of the line?"

"November 2, the power is in your hands, hands that once picked cotton," Jackson said.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., holds
hands in prayer with retired Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Fla., left, the
Rev. Jesse Jackson, center, the Rev. Al Sharpton, second right, and
Pastor Gaston Smith on Sunday at the Friendship Missionary Baptist
Church in Miami.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., holds hands in prayer with retired Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Fla., left, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, center, the Rev. Al Sharpton, second right, and Pastor Gaston Smith on Sunday at the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami.

Added Sharpton: "Everything we have fought for, marched for, gone to jail for -- some died for -- could be reversed if the wrong people are put on the Supreme Court."

The Bush campaign

Bush did not campaign Sunday, instead spending the day at his Texas ranch riding his bike, working around the property and engaging in informal preparations for the campaign's final debate. Vice President Dick Cheney also stayed off the campaign trail, while Kerry running mate John Edwards appeared on the five Sunday talk shows before heading to the Midwest.

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