Mitt Romney is not giving up on the black vote.
The billionaire Republican nominee for president will address the NAACP’s national convention in July at a time when Romney is being attacked by the Obama campaign for being completely out of touch with many hard-working Americans, and particularly with the black community.
Will Romney explain to civil rights leaders why he belongs to a Mormon religion that believes blacks were actually “cursed” with dark skin by God?
Romney, who has a net worth of about $200 million, comes to the NAACP convention with plenty of rhetorical baggage. He famously said during separate interviews that:
“I’m not concerned about the very poor.” "
“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
"[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs."
"I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed."
And here’s a personal favorite: During an uncomfortable photo-op with a group of black kids at a Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, Romney uttered this bizarre remark: "Who let the dogs out? Who, who."
Condescending. Racially insensitive. Ignorant.
And what was his point?
Romney is the worst kind of politician: he’s a political shape-shifter: He tries to transform himself into the audience that he’s speaking to at the moment.
Last month, for example, he told a group white blue-collar Southerners that he now likes “grits,” but said he’s never eaten grits on a regular basis – if at all.
So what can Romney say to NAACP delegates to persuade African-Americans to embrace his candidacy?
Probably nothing – but that won’t stop Romney from trying.
“I think we all know that 90 percent, if not more, of blacks are Democrats and will vote for President Obama,” Tara Wall, Romney’s newly-hired African-American adviser told Urban Faith.
“So, people need to know that we do have a message and that the Obama campaign doesn’t have a lock on the black vote,” Wall said. “Our goal is not to take any vote for granted. We also have to make sure that we’re continuing to reach out broadly to our base, our base of black conservatives, Republicans, moderates, those who have supported us in the past and those who may have voted for Obama, but are looking for us to say, “Come back home.”
Come back home? When has the Republican Party been “home” for black Americans? When has the GOP honestly embraced racial diversity and championed the causes for black people, the poor, and those who have lost faith in the federal government?
Romney’s only hope is to turn blacks against Obama by talking about how the economy is hurting African-Americans with a 13 percent unemployment rate.
“Why aren’t we talking more about black unemployment? Black joblessness? We are, but I have yet to hear anything substantive from this administration,” Wall insisted.
“And, God knows, I’m sure President Obama means well. He’s absolutely a likable person. I’m sure folks feel compelled every time they hear him speak, but what has the soaring rhetoric resulted in?” she added. “When you have 40 straight months of job loss, what has that done to the black community? What has that done for black job growth and entrepreneurship?”
Wall’s comments come as the Obama campaign released two more television ads this week saying that Romney continues to evade his record as governor of Massachusetts.
Obama aides say when Romney ran for governor, he promised that he wouldn’t raise taxes, but he left Massachusetts in bad fiscal condition.
As highlighted in the ad, entitled “Mosaic,” the Obama campaign says Romney raised more than 1,000 taxes and fees totaling more than $1.5 billion.
The Obama campaign says Romney raised each resident’s tax burden by $1,200 per person, an increase of 30 percent and increased fees for everything from milk to nursing homes, from school bus rides to poultry inspections.
And on July 12 in Houston, NAACP delegates will directly hear from Romney as he tries to convince the longtime civil rights organization that his vision for the nation – not President Barack Obama’s – will best serve black Americans.
“Every four years we invite the presidential candidates to address our convention, and we are delighted that Governor Romney has decided to join us,” NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement. “Governor Romney will have the opportunity to speak to NAACP leaders from every state in the nation. We are proud to offer a forum to discuss the important issues of the day.”
Let's see what Romney does with the opportunity.