Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney traveled to Houston July 11 to explain to members of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization why they should cast their votes for him come November.
“If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him,” the GOP’s presumptive nominee said in an address to the annual convention of the NAACP.
President Obama, who was also invited, was not expected to attend, though Vice President Joseph Biden was scheduled to appear on July 12.
In an attempt to build bridges, or at least appear to reach out to African American voters, Romney told the audience that, if elected, he plans to “eliminate every non-essential, expensive program” he could find, including the Affordable Care Act, which he called “Obamacare.” Many in the audience did not like what they heard and booed him.
He tried to score points again with a jobs reference, saying a bad economy was worse for blacks. He cited national statistics that show the unemployment rate among Blacks is more than 14 percent while the national average hovers just over eight percent. There were a few polite claps, but only a few.
The NAACP audience made no attempt to hide its disdain for Romney’s message. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, both Democrats, said though untraditional for the typically polite crowds that attend the convention, the jeers should have been expected.
“He tried to go to the NAACP and then take a position that he knew would impact seven million African Americans adversely and then he got the response that was completely appropriate,” Reed said on a conference call to reporters.