Mitt Romney’s African-American Problem

Is the Republican candidate ignoring an important voting block?

Posted: 04/11/2012 11:11 AM EDT

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney, the de facto Republican presidential nominee, has been criticized for being insensitive to women’s issues, immigration and the realities of ordinary Americans’ lives. Should African-Americans be added to that list?

 

According to a report on the Daily Beast, the former Massachusetts governor has made little to no effort to reach out to Black voters in what is widely believed will be an extremely tight race. Neglecting Black voters could cost him the White House.

 

Romney frequently points to his experience in business and job creation as the number one reason why he would make a better leader than President Obama. He and his campaign team may have simply done the math and decided that their resources would yield greater outcomes with other demographic groups, such as women and Latinos. But as the Daily Beast report points out, even though most African-Americans will back Obama in November, neglecting them sends the wrong message to key swing voters.

 

Political tone-deafness could, in fact, trump business expertise. As Democratic strategist Tad Devine told the website, such outreach could determine who wins and who loses this fall. Citing former President George W. Bush, he noted how the self-proclaimed “compassionate conservative” was able to win his 2004 re-election bid in large part by increasing his support among Black voters in the critical battleground state of Ohio by just five percentage points.

 

Romney also doesn’t seem to have any prominent Black advisors or campaign staffers, unlike his current and former rivals. Former Rep. J.C. Watts and former presidential candidate Herman Cain have publically backed Newt Gingrich. Rep. Ron Paul has a Black spokesman. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a former Packers player, endorsed Rick Santorum and Pastor O’Neal Dozier served as chair of his Florida campaign.

 

“It’s just plain stupid [to neglect Black voters]," demographer Joel Kotkin told the Beast. “This is clearly a blind spot, perhaps because Romney’s generation of Mormons grew up in an all-white world.”

 

Alphonso Jackson, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Bush administration, said that Romney will eventually reach out to Black voters and predicted that he would create a cabinet as diverse as Bush’s and President Bill Clinton’s were.

 

But according to African-American conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, Romney’s campaign team isn’t serving him well in this area.

 

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