The battle for the White House has spilled over onto black urban radio stations in key states with ads accusing Democrats of promoting abortions among blacks and siding with homosexual couples rather than married heterosexuals.
"Democrats say they want our votes," says one ad about the Democratic Party's pro-choice stance. "Why don't they want our children?"
Many of the ads tout Republican tax-cut policies purported to benefit middle-class families, including a growing number of black middle-class families.
"The Democrats in Congress opposed these family tax cuts. Only nine voted for it," says one of the ads. "Instead, Democrat leaders support equal benefits for gay or lesbian couples.
"So, if you think America needs more gay lifestyles, you ought to vote Democrat," it concludes. "But if you think the traditional family needs a break, vote Republican."
The ads, funded by a conservative-leaning group called Americas PAC, have come under searing attack from black Democrats, who say the ads are "reverse race-baiting" and even "racist." The ads are devised, they say, to keep blacks away from the polls on Nov. 2.
Whatever the case, both sides agree that support for Sen. John Kerry among blacks is tepid compared with their past overwhelming support of Democratic candidates.
Former Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential race with 83 percent of the black vote. This year, polls show Mr. Kerry with support from 73 percent.
"Kerry is a very white man," acknowledges black Kerry supporter Glen Ford, editor and co-publisher of the online magazine Black Commentator. "And I mean that almost in a comedic way."
"If you were going to do a sitcom, Kerry would be the white guy who doesn't get it," he said. "But we've had them before. And compared to George Bush, we will vote for him."
Sensing the soft support, Mr. Kerry frequently campaigns with noted black leaders such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, often in black churches. Although Michigan appears safely in his column, Mr. Kerry has made numerous trips to Detroit -- the nation's largest majority-black city.
And running mate Sen. John Edwards often is dispatched to campaign in black communities, where he is wildly popular. In addition to being a Southerner -- appealing to many blacks who have roots in the South.
Nonetheless, some say the ads are stirring up black voters.
"We normally see ads targeted to whites to raise their fears of the black population," said University of Dayton law professor Vernellia R. Randall, who first heard one of the ads while standing in line at an Ohio post office. "These are targeted to the black population to raise their fears of being overrun by whites, of being wiped out as a race and of genocide."
They are nothing of the sort, said Herman Cain, a black Georgia business executive who ran unsuccessfully this year for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.
"That is the most ridiculous accusation. Those ads are designed to get people to vote," he said. "Vote Republican."
It is the Democratic Party, he said, that has done great disservice to blacks in America for making extravagant promises that can't be kept.
"The Democrats have had a free ride with the black vote for too long," Mr. Cain said. "They've been taken for granted."
Regardless of how blacks should vote, Ms. Randall said, the radio ads are "disturbing."
"This isn't really about getting them to vote for Bush. It's about getting them to stay home," she said.
"They set up a conflict that you can't resolve," Ms. Randall said. "Which devil do I go with?"