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Conservatives push to woo black voters

Ads rip Kerry in swing states

PHILADELPHIA -- A Washington nonprofit group with ties to the Republican Party is airing radio ads in nine cities, asking if US Senator John Kerry takes ''the black community for granted?"

The four ads -- one calls the Democratic nominee for president ''another wishy-washy rich white politician" -- were paid for by People of Color United.

That group was established last week by DC Parents For School Choice, a Washington-based nonprofit group that advocates school vouchers.

The ads are running in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; Toledo, Columbus, and Cleveland, Ohio; Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo.; Detroit; and Milwaukee -- all in battleground states in the November election.

''We're primarily focused on urban black radio," said M. Darrell Williams, who produced the ads.

His clients include the Republican National Committee and the party's state chapters in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Dakota, and Vermont.

Virginia Walden-Ford, president of People of Color United and the voice in the ads, said she spent between $50,000 and $70,000 to air them for four weeks. Walden-Ford said many of the conservatives who backed DC Parents for School Choice helped pay to make and run the ads.

''I want people to think about how they're voting," said Walden-Ford, who appeared in Washington with President Bush in February at a speech he made on school vouchers. ''I think a lot of black people vote Democratic because that's how we always voted. I did for many years. I wanted people to think about the accomplishments of the administration and how it affects black people's lives."

Bush is not mentioned in the ads. Some highlights:

''Boy, does Kerry come across as rich, white, and wishy-washy!"

Another quotes NAACP chairman Julian Bond from an April New York Times story, saying of Kerry: ''I don't think you can be a serious contender for the votes of people of color -- if you don't have people of color making the decisions in your campaign."

This ad does not mention that Bond praised Kerry at the NAACP convention in Philadelphia last month. Bush snubbed the group's invitation to speak.

People of Color United joins the ranks of nonprofit advocacy groups firing salvos in the presidential campaign. Bush has been assailed on radio and television by Democratic-friendly nonprofit groups America Coming Together and MoveOn PAC.

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said he learned about the People of Color United ads from the Philadelphia Daily News and could not comment on them. But he added that Bush ''always talks in ways that are positive."

US Representative Chaka Fattah, Democrat of Philadelphia, speaking for the Kerry campaign yesterday, asked why People of Color United says it wants to get people thinking about Bush when its ads only attack Kerry.

''Obviously, what they really want to do is be negative, because at this moment, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a political analyst of any note who doesn't think Bush is in a lot of trouble," said Fattah, pointing to a BET/CBS poll from three weeks ago that showed Kerry leading Bush 8-1 among black voters.

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