Associated Press Writer
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is reaching out to fellow blacks in his first advertising effort in South Carolina, a minute-long spot scheduled to begin airing Wednesday on 36 radio stations with predominantly black listenership.
The Illinois senator has been careful not to be defined strictly as a black candidate and risk alienating white voters, but he and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton are in a close fight for the black voters who traditionally make up half of the Democratic primary turnout in South Carolina. The radio ad allows Obama to target his appeal to black audiences.
Clinton enjoys strong support in the black community and is married to former President Clinton, who is wildly popular among black voters. Obama’s advisers say their biggest challenge is introducing him to voters who certainly know who Clinton is, but may not know much about Obama or even that he is black.
The ad makes it clear with excerpts from Obama’s speech to the NAACP. He ticks off problems facing the community — more black men in prison than in college, serious illnesses disproportionately affecting blacks and the argument that it takes a hurricane to show the rest of the country about problems of race and poverty.
“I know what you know,” Obama says. “Despite all the progress that’s been made we have more work to do.”
Soft jazz plays in the background as a deep-voiced announcer describes Obama as a Christian family man, a former civil rights lawyer and state legislator. “It’s time for Barack Obama,” the announcer says repeatedly.
Obama is running two ads on television in Iowa, but the radio spot is his first in South Carolina.
A poll of South Carolina adults by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. conducted last week found Clinton leading with 39 percent, followed by Obama with 25 percent. A poll last month by a different pollster, Mason Dixon, had Obama narrowly ahead.