Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boos, applause for Romney at NAACP confab

The boos presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney got during his appearance before the NAACP convention today was the headline captured by many media outlets. The boos, according to this MSNBC clip, came as Romney declared he would repeal "Obamacare" if he became president.

But interestingly, the boos became applause moments later when Romney said he'd also strengthen and save Medicare and Social Security. In fact, as's Michael O'Brien said, "Romney otherwise encountered polite applause in his speech, which hit on themes of jobs and the economy - mainstays of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's overall stump speech - as well as education reform."

Romney's speech, which Mediate called his "better angels" speech, included ideas that the mostly black audience could embrace such as the persistence of racial inequality.

Romney said: "If someone had told us in the 1950s or 60s that a black citizen would serve as the forty-fourth president, we would have been proud and many would have been surprised. Picturing that day, we might have assumed that the American presidency would be the very last door of opportunity to be opened. Before that came to pass, every other barrier on the path to equal opportunity would surely have to come down.

"Of course, it hasn’t happened quite that way. Many barriers remain. Old inequities persist. In some ways, the challenges are even more complicated than before. And across America — and even within your own ranks — there are serious, honest debates about the way forward."

He also noted that black unemployment is significantly higher than joblessness for other demographic groups and rose in June from 13.6 to 14.4 percent. “Americans of every background are asking when this economy will finally recover – and you, in particular, are entitled to an answer,” he said.

Romney added, according to the Hill blog, that "if equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, black families could send their sons and daughters to public schools that truly offer the hope of a better life. Instead, for generations, the African-American community has been waiting and waiting for that promise to be kept. Today, black children are 17 percent of students nationwide — but they are 42 percent of the students in our worst-performing schools.”

Romney's answer was school choice, which many blacks agree with and many do not.

But a big omission from the speech was any mention of voter ID laws, which the NAACP and its President Ben Jealous have tagged as "the greatest attack on voting rights since segregation." The laws that have been pushed through Republican dominated state legislatures across the nation are considered by many to be designed to suppress black and Hispanic voter turnout - traditionally favoring Democrats. North Carolina lawmakers pushed through a bill but Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed it.

It's surprising that Romney did not attempt to defend the laws, given that he was speaking in Houston, and in Texas the Obama administration's Justice Department has blocked the state's voter ID law claiming civil rights violations. A panel of three federal judges in Washington is hearing testimony this week in a trial to determine whether the Texas law violates the Voting Rights Act. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday compared the Texas law to an illegal poll tax. Romney was silent on the issue before the NAACP.

All in all, Romney's speech can be viewed a legitimate attempt to reach out to a constituency that the Republicans have not done a good job of luring into their fold. Much of it got applause - though tepid at times.

Pundits said Romney deserves credit for even agreeing to talk to the black civil rights groups, given that polls show more than 90percent of blacks have expressed support for President Obama. But Romney would have been breaking with recent tradition to decline the invitation. Both John McCain, who was the GOP nominee in 2008, and President George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor, spoke to the group while running for president.

The Lonely Conservative has the complete video of Romney's 20-minute or so speech. It gives a fuller representation of what Romney had to say, and the audience's reaction to it.

Posted by Fannie Flono


Anonymous said...

I support Romney, but this speech just shows he's as clueless as all politicians are about education. You can take the teachers from the best performing school in a district and trade them with the teachers from the worst performing school and it won't make a bit of difference in either school. It's the kids and the culture they grow up in.

Shamash said...

"Today, black children are 17 percent of students nationwide — but they are 42 percent of the students in our worst-performing schools.”

Gee, what a surprise...

And I bet the problem goes from school to school with the students, too.

Anonymous said...

I need Fannie, any other black person, or any other minority person, to explain to me how requiring to show a photo ID in order to vote is "the greatest attack on voting rights since segregation."

Finances? An NC state ID costs $10, and you have to get a new one every 4-8 years, depending on age. You will never convince me that anyone in the state can't come up with this little amount.

Can't get to a DMV? Not an issue in cities. I can't drive due to poor vision, but I've had a state ID card each of the 24 years I have lived here. In a town with no public transport? I would think that any sensible politician representing such an area would push legislation offering those citizens a free ride to a DMV office.

Or is it another reason that no one dares say out loud, such as laziness, or something even more sinister?

I have no idea, which is why I am asking.

Quite frankly, if I were black or any other minority, and I had politicians screaming to the world that requiring me to show an ID in order to vote was an attempt to keep me from voting, I would be profoundly insulted, and would flood such politicians' offices with calls, letters and emails demanding that they stop accusing me of being that stupid.

Fire Coach K said...

It's disingenuous to say these voter ID measures aren't done with the intent of discouraging minority voters. Same with Florida's measure to ban early voting on the Sunday prior to election day. What possible reason could there be for that, other than the fact that folks who attend black churches in Florida tend to go together to vote right after services? The GOP legislators behind the measure said it was done to prevent fraud, but couldn't come up with one example of fraud due to people being able to vote early on Sunday. Dishonesty likes that makes me question the intent of all similar measures.