Romney Booed by NAACP for Mentioning the Repeal of ‘Obamacare’

Courtesy of washingtonexaminer.comMitt Romney’s experience with the NAACP has been regurgitated by Fox News and MSNBC over and over. Both outlets are taking the simplistic route in evaluating this speech.

Earlier today, Romney spoke to the NAACP and stuck to his guns, but surprisingly showed a bit of flexibility. He was greeted with a decent applause, but when he discussed his efforts to repeal “Obamacare, the boos rained down.

But we know how politics really work. Few politicians really mean what they say and speak out of the side of their mouths. Really, Romney was talking to independent, suburban, white voters and conservative voters who may “resent” blacks. These conservatives have a harder time believing Romney holds conservative beliefs. According to Jamelle Bouie of The Prospect,

“The point of this address to the NAACP was to send a signal to right-leaning, suburban white voters—that Mitt Romney is tolerant, and won’t represent the bigots in his party. But there’s a sense in which Romney had it both ways: Not only did he reassure hesitant whites, but by pledging to repeal Obamacare—and being booed by the audience—he likely increased his standing with those who do resent African-Americans. By going to an audience of black professionals and sticking with his stump speech, there’s a sense in which Romney might receive credit for refusing to ‘pander.'”

I think Bouie was correct in assessing that Romney wanted to show right-leaning, suburban white voters that he is tolerant and won’t represent the more extreme viewpoints because he refers to President Obama as a “black citizen.” Romney said,

“Now if someone had told us in the 1950s or 1960s that a black citizen would serve as the 44th president of the United States, we would have been proud and many would have been surprised.”

Bouie also makes a good point by saying that Romney wanted to reach out to the more conservative Republicans who may not have view the NAACP in the most positive light. A lot of conservative still have trouble backing Romney because they feel he’s too much of a moderate. On Hannity, frequent guest Michael Meyers said,

The NAACP has become a hate group.

Courtesy of

So there we have it. As a Republican nominee (or so we think.. erh em… sorry Ron Paul) you have to make sure that you don’t alienate the viewers of Fox News.

Others believe Romney showed guts, stuck to his guns and was “aggressive and genuine” as blogger Crystal Wright (@GOPBlackChick) wrote in her latest blog. She summarized the speech as such:

“This was one of the rare instances in this campaign where Romney gave us more than words; he revealed a personality and emotion, things that make a candidate real to voters. Romney not only acknowledged the challenges of the post Civil Rights Movement and the election of President Obama, something the Republican Party has failed to do, though ironically Republicans were responsible for passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act.”

Wright also makes some good points by noting how Romney congratulated Obama on breaking a major racial barrier. She believes Romney appealed to liberal voters in his speech by showing that he’s a respectable candidate. However, I don’t think many liberals will be considering Romney based on his track record and previous gaffes (e.g., saying “corporations are people, my friend“). Plus support for the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is up since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month.

Others believe that Romney showed how disconnected he was by discussing Obamacare. This may have been the case when Romney mentioned Obamacare, but Romney did throw out a lot of statistics and facts about issues within the black community. Though he was vague in discussing what he would do specifically to alleviate the pressure of these issues, he did show some progress in being “in touch” with people other than older, white, rich men. Romney said,

“Now with 90% of African-Americans who typically vote for Democrats, you may wonder…  or some may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African-American community and address the NAACP. One reason of course is that I hope to represent all Americans of every race, creed and sexual orientation—From the poorest to the richest, to everyone in between.”

He later said,

“Now if someone had told us in the 1950s or 1960s that a black citizen would serve as the 44th president of the United States, we would have been proud and many would have been surprised.”

And he finished with these two ideas:

“Picturing that day we might have assumed that the American presidency would be the very last door to opportunity to be opened. Before that came to pass every other barrier in the path of equal opportunity would surely have had to come down. Of course it hasn’t happened quite that way. Many barriers remain. Old inequities persist. In some way the challenges are even more complicated than before”


“If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead its worse for AA in almost every way—The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, median family wealth are all worse in the black community.”

And for that he received a thorough applause from the crowd. But that awkward 15 seconds where Romney winces while being booed makes me think he did slip up a bit. He then went on to talk about a poll from the Chamber of Commerce. Speaking about the CoC—a group of conservative corporations and super rich friends of Romney—was probably the wrong thing to say to the NAACP.

Also, did anyone notice the sign behind Romney on the stage? It read:”Your power. Your decision. VOTE!” Interesting how Romney left out the efforts by his party to disenfranchise minority voters. This is a highly controversial issue and something dear to many blacks. Romney was careful in not bringing that up. However, that omission supports the argument that Romney is out of touch with what’s important to blacks. “The Young Turks” host Cenk Uygur of Current TV expresses this point well:

And lastly, some people are going as far as to say that Romney was a winner because by standing by his convictions among an unpopular crowd, he showed moderates and those on the right that he was willing to brave fierce opposition. Romney said he knew he would receive boos for talking about repealing the ACA and this supports the notion that by doing this, Romney showed how “brave” he was. Similarly, one writer thinks Romney showed that he will not cater to those who think differently than him just to pick up a few votes.

Personally, it’s difficult to know how the speech fared for Romney. I think Romney had to do the speech because he was receiving allegations of being out of touch with minorities and the middle-class. By doing this speech, I think Romney had nothing to lose—So Romney won this round.

I do know that Obama didn’t show up this year to speak to the NAACP and that is unfortunate. Sometimes politics become a dirty game and in a pivotal election year, Obama chose not to show up because he didn’t want to risk seeming “too black” to the same white, suburban independents that Romney is trying to reach.

The worst part about this situation is that none of these candidates were truly speaking to the NAACP and the black community. They were all trying to win over independents. Republicans know that blacks will vote for Obama and vice-versa. The fact that blacks were used as a pawn in order for these candidates to advance is what leaves me disheartened.

If you want, here is a look at Obama’s speech to the NAACP in 2009:


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