Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves as he leaves the stage after speaking at the NAACP convention in Houston July 11, 2012. (Photo: Richard Carson/REUTERS)
Reporting from Colorado to Houston — BET News was a part of the traveling press pool with former Gov. Mitt Romney in preparation of his speech at the NAACP annual convention in Houston. We began our journey on the campaign trail with Romney on Tuesday in Colorado and finished our journey with him today in Texas along with hundreds of NAACP convention attendees.
Being a part of a traveling press pool benefits both the journalist and the candidate. As journalists, we are able to interact directly with Romney, his staff and supporters, which enables us to see firsthand what policies and agendas the campaign is tackling. This, obviously, allows for better reporting.
The campaign provides press for its candidate, which further gets Romney’s name and policies across to a specific national audience. This is a relationship that develops even further by sharing the same planes, hotels and ground transportation. Each day you are given a rundown of the candidate’s schedule and call times for Secret Service “sweeps.”
Anyone who has ever attended an event where a prominent government official is present is aware of the tremendous amount of security precautions that take place prior and during an event. As part of the press pool, you are cleared by Secret Service along the way, which saves on time and ease of mobility.
This morning when we arrived at the George R. Brown Convention Center through a back entrance protected by trained police dogs, security and Secret Service, the convention center’s room was cold and empty. We set up our cameras and within an hour Gospel music filled the room. Our crew joked that we were about to have church with Gov. Romney — little did we know we would have a different kind of church this morning.
The typical call and response reaction you see in many Black Baptist churches is exactly what we witnessed today. Romney was received with a polite round of applause once he was introduced. It wasn't until he mentioned repealing Obamacare that the “church” responded with boos.
There would be a few more times during Romney’s speech that attendees would react strongly, not afraid to use the familiar call and response technique to each word and topic Romney would bring up. After each response from the audience, the stroke of each reporter’s pen became more vigorous, fingers typed away with more purpose on mobile devices and each camera person would find that perfect close-up shot of someone’s emotional reaction.
Once the former governor’s speech ended, the Gospel music began again, but the mood did not match the tempo of the organ. Members of the press quickly rushed to attendees’ seats to get a reaction. These types of reactions help reporters gauge the thoughts and feelings of the audience.
I'm sure Romney has seen better days on the campaign trail, but there's always tomorrow. Another city. Another Crowd. Another day on the trail.
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