Yesterday Mitt Romney was booed during his speech to the NAACP convention in Houston, Texas. It was the reaction he was looking for.
Romney was given polite applause at the end of his remarks. It was a nice gesture to a person who had gone out of his way to give a rude speech.
Using the pejorative term Obamacare, talking about denying civil rights to a civil rights organization and speaking in condescending and paternalistic terms about being a better president for African Americans than Barack Obama was a clear and cynical play for white votes.
At no point did Romney address any area of substance relevant to the oldest civil rights group in America.
That is because he was not talking to anyone sitting in that ballroom in Houston.
Romney had an opportunity to open a dialogue with a group that the Republican Party has been openly hostile to for a long time.
Instead he doubled down on the hostility by claiming that he knew better what was good for African Americans than his audience.
Romney claimed he would be a better job creator for African Americans as president.
The head of the party that is gutting public sector jobs – the driving force behind the increase in African American unemployment – the guy that wanted the auto industry to go bankrupt. That guy, and not the African American President of the United States, knows better.
Romney had an opportunity to address the history of racism within his Mormon Church or concerns over access to the ballot box – topics appropriate to addressing a civil rights organization the GOP has ignored for years.
Instead he offered this bizarre and confusing line: “if you understood who I truly am in my heart, 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.”
Huh? Why is it not possible to fully communicate that?
Was Romney trying to say that nothing he says is what he truly believes in his heart?
Does he feel that it is not possible to communicate what he believes because he would lose Republican support?
Or is it just another example of Mitt Romney saying nothing specific in as many words as possible? Mitt Romney may feel tough after going into the room and giving a rude speech. The guy who
cannot take on Rush Limbaugh when he demands sex tapes from a young woman because she testified to Congress suddenly found the spine to say something unpopular to an audience.
Later in the day, Romney wore his booing as a badge of honor. Speaking to an audience at a fundraiser in Montana, Romney said of Obama supporters: “if they want more free stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other.”
Now Mitt Romney getting free stuff from the government is another column for another day (soon).
Romney made that statement in the context of being booed over Obamacare and his intent is clear: he says he is calling out a group that represents people that just want free stuff from the government.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.