Commentary: Romney Courts Black Voters

Despite the odds stacked against him, the Republican presidential candidate is trying his best to reach Black voters.

Posted: 06/26/2012 11:22 AM EDT
Mitt Romney woos Black voters.

We’ve told you before that Black voters, despite what some people might argue, are not going to abandon President Obama in droves come November. African-Americans' numbers may not be the same as in 2008, but that year was an especially historic moment with an especially historic match-up. But nobody expects the Black voters who do show up are going to vote for Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican challenger.

We told you just last month about Romney’s disastrous trip to a Black community in Philadelphia, where Washington Post writer Philip Rucker witnessed people shout, “Get out, Romney!” at the ultra-wealthy politician:

Residents, some of them organized by Obama’s campaign, stood on their porches and gathered at a sidewalk corner to shout angrily at Romney. Some held signs saying, “We are the 99%.” One man’s placard trumpeted an often-referenced Romney gaffe: “I am not concerned about the very poor.”   

Madaline G. Dunn, 78, who said she has lived here for 50 years and volunteers at the school, said she is “personally offended” that Romney would visit her neighborhood.  

“It’s not appreciated here,” she said. “It is absolutely denigrating for him to come in here and speak his garbage.”


Still, despite the fact that most people think Romney is dead in the water with the Black community, Romney is pushing forth. At the end of last month, the Romney campaign hired Tara Wall, an African-American woman and Republican National Committee senior adviser, to handle communications outreach to the Black community. Beyond that, Romney plans to speak at the NAACP’s national convention next month.

“As America grows more diverse, we can choose to embrace that diversity or let it divide us. We look forward to an engaging conversation with Gov. Romney about his vision for a more just society,” said NAACP President Ben Jealous in a statement.

There are also rumors that Romney is in talks with other major Black news outlets to have serious conversations about what he can potentially offer Black voters.

Though he’s putting on the full court press, it’s unlikely Romney’s attempts to entice the Black community to his side will have any real impact come Election Day. Still, knowing that it’s a mostly losing battle is perhaps a nice sign.

A great many Republican politicians have in the past totally ignored Black voters, knowing that they’d probably vote for the Democratic candidate. That Romney isn’t doing this, and is at least trying, even in a small way, to engage with the Black community is a sign that times are changing at least a bit.


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