If U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes had any notions of capturing the hearts and minds of Chicago's black electorate, the annual Bud Billiken Day Parade on Saturday proved that this task will be nothing short of daunting for the Republican. Keyes, the conservative political figure from Maryland who entered the Senate race last week after GOP nominee Jack Ryan withdrew his candidacy, made his first trip Saturday into the heart of Chicago's black community. Keyes, an African-American, was greeted with a resounding chorus of jeers and boos that bordered on outright hostility.
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"Why are you representing hate?" he asked, wagging a finger at a throng of people dressed in Obama T-shirts who were jeering him. Keyes referred to Obama's abortion rights' position. Thus far, Keyes, a conservative Christian who on Saturday wore a gold crucifix around his neck, has centered his many attacks on Obama around the Democrat's support of abortion rights.
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Before stepping off on the parade route, Keyes charged in an interview that Obama is indirectly supporting the "genocide" of African-Americans by endorsing a woman's legal right to an abortion. "We're the first people who have ever been pushed into genocide before our babies are born," Keyes said. "So the people who are supporting that position are actually supporting the systematic extermination of black America."
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Many spectators said such views, along with his conservative economic policies, place Keyes at the extreme right end of the political spectrum, far from the beliefs of black Americans, perhaps the most loyal of all Democratic voting blocs. "It's just hard to come from where we come from, from the working class, and be a Republican," said Jay Little, 33, an electrician from the South Shore neighborhood. "Mr. Keyes doesn't reach me at all. I don't think he will ever see things from our perspective."