Commentary: What Romney Didn’t Address to the NAACP Speaks Volumes

Mitt Romney addresses the NAACP convention in Houston.

Commentary: What Romney Didn’t Address to the NAACP Speaks Volumes

Mitt Romney's NAACP speech failed to address the issues of major concern to Black America.

Published July 12, 2012

Mitt Romney’s speech at the NAACP convention in Houston Wednesday was particularly notable, but more for what the Republican presidential candidate didn't say than for the comments he made.

Romney’s remarks centered on some platitudes and the contents of his all-too-familiar and vacuous stump speech. He talked again about his view that taxes are too high and his now well-reported criticism of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

What Romney did not do was delve into the issues that were most significant to his audience at the NAACP. 

For example, he provided nothing in the way of a detailed roadmap of his views on how he might create more jobs for the American people, let alone for the African-American population. He cited the gap in unemployment rate between the overall population and the Black population, whose jobless rate remains staggering.

It is the issue of paramount concern to not only the NAACP, but to Black Americans throughout the country. Yet, Romney offered not a clue on any strategy or a program initiative to stimulate job growth in the Black community.

Nor did Romney even mention a word about the No. 1 civil rights issue of the day: The assault on voting rights in a number of states throughout the country. The rash of voter identification laws have been the focus of a growing national dialogue, with United States Attorney General Eric Holder blocking the implantation of these new laws because they disenfranchise Black and Latino voters. And what did Romney have to say on the subject? Nothing.

Of course, the moment that will forever be remembered was when Romney addressed representatives of a community disproportionately affected by inadequate health that legislation expanding the system is a bad thing.

"I’m going to eliminate every nonessential, expensive program I can find; that includes Obamacare," Romney said, followed by a prolonged chorus of boos and jeers. 

All of which makes Romney’s appearance at the Houston convention look like one huge, calculated exercise in political strategy. By his own admission, he expected to be booed during his remarks.

As such, his speech was aimed not so much at the delegates to the NAACP convention as it was toward the Republican right, whose affection he so desperately craves. It was a shameless effort to appear unflinching before an audience that symbolizes Black America. He was seeking to gain their support at the expense of offering anything cogent, insightful or useful to the audience he addressed — or to Black America for that matter.

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(Photo: Eric Kayne/Getty Images)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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