Democrat John Kerry (search) initiated a $2 million ad campaign aimed at black voters Wednesday, encouraging them to turn out to vote for the candidate because his plans on jobs, health care and education could have a direct impact on their lives.

The campaign, much of it targeted to black-owned media, includes print, radio and television ads. The ads will run in battleground states as well as major cities in other states.

Alexis Herman, Kerry campaign co-chair and former labor secretary, said the efforts to engage black voters are starting earlier in a campaign than any election year she can remember.

"This is a conversation that must start now," Herman said.

Kerry campaign manger Mary Beth Cahill said the $2 million ad buy aimed toward black voters is unprecedented.

"This is the largest commitment this early in a campaign by a Democratic presidential candidate," she said.

Democrat Al Gore led Republican George W. Bush by a 9-1 margin among blacks in 2000, a reflection of his success in courting blacks and the deep popularity of former President Clinton among blacks. The Kerry campaign needs to turn out more black voters than Gore did to prevail in many battleground states and Southern states that could be competitive.

In a 30-second television ad, black men and women ask who John Kerry is and whether he cares about them. An announcer advises them to "find out how John Kerry will fight to bring back the 1.8 million jobs that have been lost under George W. Bush."

The ad also suggests voters learn more about Kerry's plans to provide health care to nearly all Americans, especially children. And it mentions his interest in creating an "Education Trust Fund" to provide more resources for public schools as well as plans to make college more accessible.

Kerry campaign advisers acknowledge they are spending the money on ads right before the Democratic National Convention that starts June 26 because money the campaign has raised needs to be spent before Kerry becomes the nominee.

The ads were done by Uniworld Group, a black-owned firm.