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Mitt Romney gave it his best shot – and got booed.

“If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him,” Romney said with a straight face as he addressed the NAACP's national convention Wednesday.

“I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president,” Romney said to a chorus of boos.


It was a decidedly bold statement, but not at all believable. I’m not convinced that Romney actually believes his own rhetoric, but he desperately wants to win the White House so he’ll say anything, to anybody, to get elected.

Minutes after Romney spoke to NAACP delegates, the largest black group Romney has ever addressed, his surrogates quickly appeared on national television praising Romney just for showing up.

I disagree. Romney shouldn't get kudos simply because he accepted the NAACP’s invitation to speak during the national convention, offered some predictable platitudes, and then rushed off to the next campaign stop.

This wasn’t a stretch: Romney had nothing to lose. He knows President Barack Obama received 95 percent of the black vote in 2008, and the president will probably get close to that level of black support in November so Romney felt he had a chance to siphon off some black votes by appealing directly to NAACP delegates.

For Romney, the Republican candidate for president, telling a crowd of black people that he’s a better representative for African Americans than Obama, the nation’s first black president, was not the best campaign pitch – and, in fact, Romney bluntly attacked the NAACP's core concerns.

“I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart,” Romney said, “and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African-American families, you would vote for me for president.”

Romney was long on clichés and short on substance. He offered some questionable "Kumbaya" moments, but it wasn’t true leadership and he didn’t sound serious about courting African-American voters.

“His criticism of the Affordable Care Act – legislation that will improve access to quality health care for millions – signals his fundamental misunderstanding of the needs of many African Americans,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said after Romney’s speech.

Here’s what Romney failed to say: He didn’t talk specifically about how he would reverse the 14.4 black unemployment rate; he didn’t talk about his plan to address the rising HIV/AIDS crisis in the black community; he didn’t talk in detail about the widening racial disparities in education; he avoided any views on about the criminal justice system, and he didn’t discuss how his vision for health care will actually help black Americans – except for saying he’d repeal “Obamacare,” the president’s signature health care law.

“If our goal is jobs, we must stop spending over a trillion dollars more than we earn,” Romney said. “To do this, I will eliminate non-essential programs like Obamacare.”

That’s when the real booing began – and for good reason. A CNN reporter said Romney had not experienced that kind of booing since Romney began campaigning for president, although there was some polite applause during portions of Romney’s speech.

Tara Wall, a senior adviser for Romney, told reporters after the speech that Romney "received more applause than boos."

"If you want to count the handful of boos there were, I think we saw much more acceptance and applause of his speech a number of times," Wall said. "There was much more agreement over all from what I saw and heard."

But there didn't seem to be much agreement among NAACP delegates over this disingenuous statement from Romney: “I have no hidden agenda.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Romney hides everything. He refuses to make all of his tax returns public; he won’t discuss in detail his offshore bank accounts; and his campaign is shielding many of his major donors. I really don't care if Romney wants to live his life in secrecy. Just don't run for president.

“At the NAACP today, leaders in the African-American community recognized the devastating impact Mitt Romney’s policies would have on working families,” Clo Ewing, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said in a statement. “He’d gut investments in education, energy, and infrastructure, and raise taxes on the middle class even as he gives $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted towards millionaires and billionaires.”

Romney is one of those millionaires. He’s worth about $200 million; famously said he’s “not concerned about the very poor” and has no obvious connection to working-class Americans – white or black.

“The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, median family wealth are all worse in the black community,” Romney said. “In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African-Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent.”

Romney is adept at stating the obvious: Black folks already know the facts. The persistent question that remains unanswered is this: What is Romney planning to do about it?


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17 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Long on Clichés, Short on Substance

  1. Working Person Of Color on said:

    hoodtechiee you are so right so many people of color will vote for obama just because he’s a person of color. people of color should be looking for the best person for the USA not just the color of the persons skin. obama wants to buy votes, by making people feel they owe him something. When he gave the stimulus to the car companies, now he’s telling those same people they owe him. The gays in the military owe him and the Hispanics that he will allow to stay in the country, they owe him. obama only does something if he can make a group of people feel they owe him. remember obama is the same person that wants to makes it easier for people to stay home and collect a govt check. Vote for the best AMERICAN not color.

  2. Working Person Of Color on said:

    Hope and change was lip service from obama, he would never say what was supposed to change and the news media never pressed him on it because they were either in his back pocket or they were to afraid people of color would play the “race card”. obama has never had a clear cut direction as far as I could see. He has always used double talk and blame someone else when something goes wrong. Everyone knew obama could not change the world but too many of us expected he would make the USA a little better for everyone not just people of color. Four years and he’s still talking with very little action. If anyone out there can tell me what has obama done to help the USA please let us know?

  3. Working Person Of Color on said:

    This is just another show of “Lack of Class” by a bunch of people of color who want to keep a devide between blacks and whites. Why it keeps them in power, the NAACP is no better than the KKK when it comes to race. people of color want to be respected but when they have a chance to show a little class what do they do? Act like a bunch of spoiled kids. the NAACP should be asking obama where are all the jobs? but they would rather have people of color laying at home collecting a check. There are jobs out there, but people of color have this “i want it free and dont want to work for it” get over it there is nothing free. Get off your lazy butt, get a job and dont expect to be in charge the first day.

  4. rhemasplace on said:

    The merging of the country left on the President’s inauguration day when republicans met and decided they were going to oppose the President on everything he does. And, they have successfully lived up to the evil ploy to the point that they make themselves look and sound like idiots. By any means necessary to get Obama out of the white house! Pathetic!

  5. Lesya on said:

    Well, people are starting to catch up to his antics and booed him recently. He is just a two faced politician, like most, but in his case, he is being seen for what he is nationally.

  6. cindycruz on said:

    It wouldn’t matter if Romney presented every tax return he’s had since his 18th birthday. This is all a distraction to portray Romney as “Too Rich to Be President” and create envy and resentment. Obama promised “No More Red America or Blue America, only the United States of America” during his 08 campaign…. where has that gone?

  7. redbone1954 on said:

    This man is such a clown. i guess he thought that Black people would just fall for the banana in the tail pipe.The repugnuts have NO PLAN for our future just disaster. I don’t understanf hoe this foll (who put in place a healthcareplan in Mass.) can say with a straight face that he will repeal the Affordable Health care Act . You idiot it’s the same thing!!!!

  8. jimmyg on said:

    Folks,this is nothin but a chess game,Mr Greedy shows up at the heart of our families to denounce one of our own.He did it to show those red neck conservatives he’s one of them, at our expense.It would be like Dr King giving a speech at a Klan rally.Except we’re wiser than that.Mitt is nothin but a flip flop pin,
    Double talk in Yankee..

  9. cindycruz on said:

    @Dukody< President Obamas Economic staff hasbeen horrible(Nothing but tax cheats who have never been in business or Goldman Sachs banksters just enriching themselves) , I recomended if he wanted to get a second term... he would have to FIRE them ALL!!! ... and bring on honest business people to give him sound advice and direction..... President Obamas choices are sinking his chances at a second term

  10. cindycruz on said:

    Hate to admit, but as someone who voted for hope and President Obama…. this administration has been bad for Blacks,Browns, Yellow and white.

    Worst recovery ever withTrillions of dollars of debt, going right back into a recesion and unemployement sky high. Jeez not what I expected with all the promises I heard four years ago.

  11. hoodtechiee on said:

    Dear president Romney,

    Why would you waste your time trying to convince my brothers/sisters of a different approach to this nation’s problem? The naacp is irrelevant which is why it’s so hard for them to find new members. I understand you were caught in a dam if you do, dam if you don’t situation by going before the naacp, but you have to understand something:
    1. The African American voters will still vote for obama no matter how bad things have gotten for them under his administration
    2. These people are only interested in handouts, freebies what have you done for me lately chips
    3. They offer no real solutions to their own self inflicted problems, only to blame someone else for their situation
    4. Now that you have tried to present ideas to them and were treated to the upmost disrespect as an African American I apologize for their juvenile behavior.
    5.Ignore them, they are only 3% of the votes anyway and when you win in 2012 these same people will come begging to you to help them via(naacp,al sharpton,cbc,jesse Jackson etc…)you get the picture
    So in summation I wish you well in defeating this incompetent president come November, because quiet as it is kept blacks are a lot better off w/o obama and his administration’s ideas.This is what happens when you dumb down and reprogram the masses, government assistance from cradle to grave and believe me the black community knows of this all to well.


  12. DUKODY1 on said:

    Just listen, just listen to these comments from closed mined Black people. If Romney was the current POTUS, you same folks would be at the White House with Al “The Pimp” Sharpton rallying and complaining about the Black unemployment rate of 14.4% and a shameful 50% for Black youths. But what happens when you have a man that has the same skin color as you, you drop the ball and blame someone else. Obama is a politician, no more or no less than any other politician. The supporters on here must not be in the 14.4% or the young Blacks sitting at home amongst the 50%. Obama will not create jobs, He has no clue where to start. His first year in office, all of his senior economist walked out on him because they said Obama was incompetent on the economy. It’s not about skin color people, it’s about you, forget Obama, thinks about yourself folks. Your family, your kids. Don’t be afraid of Change for the better. Obama has Failed Black America. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones, but there are many more that are not so lucky. Vote for Real Helpful Change, not policies.

  13. wellsk1959 on said:

    It took a lot of courage to attend the NAACP convention to speak about what he wants to do as president. However, Romney gave the same Republican lines about eliminating debt and not raising taxes. I understand he doesn’t agree with the current universal health care law, but at least give an alternative so I can compare what you recommend against what is already there. That goes for the rest of the issues that Romney is against. Granted, I’m still going to vote for Obama in November, but I still want to know in detail what you plan to do to make life for African Americans better than what it is now.

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