NAACP Controversy rages – Accusations Romney rigged crowd was pandering to white conservatives
Controversy continues to swirl concerning Mitt Romney’s speech before the NAACP in Houston on Wednesday. The latest accusations include accusations that Romney brought in his own African-American ringers to make himself look good. Possibly more insidiuos are accusations that he only gave his speech to pander to white right-wing voters trying to show he “stood up to the Negroes.”
Shortly after Romney’s speech, noted civil rights leader and NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond stated:
“He wasn’t speaking to us. He was speaking to that slice of white America that hasn’t made up its mind about him, and he’s saying, ‘Look at me; I’m OK. I can get along with the Negroes. I can say things to them that they don’t like, so I’m not afraid to stand up to them.’ … I think that’s what this is all about, and that’s the reason he came.”
The former head of the NAACP went on to say that he did not believe Romney’s speech was a genuine outreach to the African-American community:
“He went there to bait us…He wanted to be able to go to some of the independents he needs to get elected and tell them, See? I stood up to the Negroes”.
Romney claimed on Fox News to have met with a “number of African American leaders” after his speech who told him “a lot of folks” were disappointed in President Barack Obama. However, when asked by MSNBC host Ed Schultz, NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton disputed that claim saying he knew which “African American leaders” Romney was referring to.
“The campaign actually gave me a list of African American VIPs that they brought in to the NAACP meeting. So, I’m sure those are the one they set down with because, quite frankly, none of the rank-and-file NAACPers met with him. …He’s talking about African American Republican politicians that were actually brought in — flown in — to the NAACP convention in Houston, Texas.”
Shultz went on to note “That means that Mitt Romney rigged the crowd to support him,” with Director Shelton concurring noting “Apparently, that’s what the case is,” Shelton agreed. “They are bringing people in that they know will support his agenda from other places that aren’t active with the NAACP”.
Reaction from actual attendees of the convention varied according to the LA Times, but most were either skeptical or downright hostile. For instance retired bus mechanic Alfred Poucette Jr. from Lake Charles, La. described Romney’s tone as “condescending” noting “I think he came here more to appease us.” Debra Hutchinson from Columbus, Ohio, said “Instead of coming to tell me what he could do for me, he came to put my president down,” adding “I think he should have stayed at home”.
Reaction to his comments about repealing the Affordable Care Act were also negative, according to the AP Wire Service. Bill Lucy, an active board member of the NAACP noted it was “Dumb” while others were more direct, like retired utility worker, James Pinkett, who noted “He must not know how much support there is in the African-American community for health care, and he comes in and calls it Obamacare. … We just think it should be given a chance to work” and 59 year old retiree William Braxton adding: “I thought he had a lot of nerve. That really took me by surprise, his attacking Obama that way”.
Rapidly losing ground with women voters and with the Hispanic vote further out of reach with each passing day, one has to wonder what Romney was thinking – or if he was thinking at all.