Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that Mitt Romney made a statement just by showing up and speaking to the nation’s oldest and most influential civil rights group in the NAACP. He stuck to familiar themes that he used in previous attempts to get support from black voters.
The crowd seemed cordial in its response to Romney, who said his priority was to create more jobs. But the tone began to change when in his 5-point plan to spark a more robust economy, he said:
“If our goal is jobs, we have to stop spending over a trillion dollars more than we take in every year.”
“And so to do that, I’m going to eliminate every non-essential expensive program I can find. That includes “Obamacare” and I’m gonna work to reform and save …”
[Outcries and boos].
Romney did his best to recover. He said that he didn’t have a hidden agenda and that his goal was to put Americans back to work.
But then dug an even deeper hole when he said:
“I submit to you this, if you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him.”
[Outcries and boos].
Judging from the comments from delegates, Romney may have left the assembly with less support than he hoped:
Male delegate: “The man is so far removed from the common man, he couldn’t possibly have a vision.”
Female delegate: “His rhetoric has not indicated that he understands what we’re going through.”
Male delegate: “He addressed a lot about the middle class, he didn’t talk about lifting up the lower class, so.”
Female delegate: “He talked to us as the people that he knows that probably won’t vote for him. His delivery was political, and I didn’t think it was genuine.”
Veteran Houston political analyst George Strong gave Mitt Romney credit for showing up at the NAACP Convention:
“Now, if I was doing his speech, I don’t think I would’ve had him blasting “Obamacare,” or even criticizing the president with a group that obviously is very pro-Obama. So, we expect our president to appear to all kinds of groups, and look like he’s generally happy to be there. I don’t think Mr. Romney was happy to be in Houston today.”
President Obama spoke to the NAACP during the 2008 campaign, but this year Vice President Joe Biden will close the conference tomorrow.