GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney broke with the precedent set by George W. Bush and actually talked to black citizens by giving a speech to the NAACP national convention. Romney appeared to be choosing his words carefully so as not to use too many big ones, and in general had the demeanor of an insurance salesman pitching a life policy to a group of five year olds.
The crowd was respectful and interested, applauded many times and gave the candidate a standing ovation at the end of the speech. But they also booed him for an extended period when he remarked that one way he would create jobs was to repeal “Obamacare”.
After the speech Romney appeared on Fox News and claimed to have had a meeting with “a number of African-American leaders after the event”, where they confided that they were actually dissatisfied with Barack Obama and were looking for “someone who can get the economy going, so I expect to get African-American votes.”
And he will – he’ll get the votes of the African-American Republicans he brought to the convention with him, and whom he met with afterward. None were actually members of the NAACP, according to the Director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, Hilary Shelton. They did cheer for him vociferously, though.
This isn’t the first time Romney has “salted” a crowd with ringers: he has brought in busloads of young Mormon college students to cheer for him at other events – kind of the way Marty Feldman took control of the mutiny in “Yellowbeard”.
During a campaign speech in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said “….the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps”. This was a double-reference to President Barack Obama, under whose administration the number of food stamp recipients has sharply increased, and who is black.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People immediately criticized Gingrich for being insensitive and misinformed. “”The majority of people using food stamps are not African-American, and most people using food stamps have a job,” a statement released by the NAACP said.
In his defense, Gingrich said his statements were “taken out of context”, and that his personal experience contradicted the NAACP statement. “Most of the blacks I see on TV are poor, unemployed, and shoot white people at the start of the program. How does the NAACP explain that?”