- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2008

ST. LOUIS | After an aggressive push to register black voters using text messaging, ads on hip-hop radio stations and Internet videos using popular stars and free concerts, the Obama team is turning to the next task: making sure that black voters show up on Election Day in bigger numbers than ever before.

The campaign is going to places of worship and beauty salons in the urban centers of swing states in an effort to convince black citizens that their votes can make a difference.

The Republicans “are counting on us not to show up,” Jurnee Smollett told a predominantly young and black audience at the National Step Show championships in Philadelphia in September.

“They are scared in their boots. They know we single-handedly could put that man in office.”

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From Missouri to Florida, the campaign is reminding voters how close the 2004 election was.

“Bush won in Florida by 380,000 votes in 2004,” Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, told supporters in a recent fundraising e-mail. “If you look at the number of registered African Americans who did not turnout in 2004, it’s over a half million; 900,000 registered young voters in 2004. … We have enough base voters in Florida to win the election if we can just turn them out.”

Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, told Floridians recently that 600,000 votes “can make and change the course of not just this election but this country.”

She urged those in the crowd to speak with their friends who aren’t registered or who “don’t think their votes will count.”

But there are indications that voters who want to make history by electing the nation’s first black president could be counterbalanced by racists. Even Obama supporters in battleground states acknowledge some people refer to the candidate in derogatory terms or they hear people making jokes about an Obama assassination.

An Irondale, Mo., home flies a Confederate flag and a sign reading, “A vote for Obama is a vote for Osama.”

Story Continues →