Commentary: Mitt Romney’s Effort to Get Black Votes Fails Again

Commentary: Romney’s Effort to Get Black Votes Fails Again

Commentary: Mitt Romney’s Effort to Get Black Votes Fails Again

Mitt Romney, the GOP’s best shot at beating President Obama, just can’t seem to get traction with many African-Americans.

Published July 27, 2012

The first time GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney embarrassed himself in front of a lot of African-Americans was on a visit to a Black community in Philadelphia. That was when people in the neighborhood gathered together and literally told the former Massachusetts governor to leave. Reported the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker at the time:

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.”

After that, Romney blundered again when he went before the NAACP this month and told them that, if he were elected president, he’d kill Obamacare. Naturally, the NAACP audience members, many of whom probably have a lot to gain from healthcare reform, greeted Romney’s statement with a chorus of boos.

Now you can add one more mistake to the Romney's list when attempting to court Black voters. This one is a campaign ad apparently directed at African-Americans. The ad itself isn’t poorly produced, but some commentators are taking issue with its accuracy, particularly because it attempts to paint Romney’s reception at the NAACP convention as being much gentler than it actually was.

Cheryl Contee at Jack & Jill Politics is particularly incensed:

Remember how Mitt Romney got (rightfully) booed at the NAACP convention recently when he stated that he’d repeal Obamacare?     

Turns out his campaign imported some Black stooges to stand up and applaud his mess to give the appearance he has diverse support (hope they got paid well). AND he just released a video that makes it [look] like he killed it in front of an audience of black folks…     

I’m assuming that this is intended to sway white moderate voters and encourage them to see Romney as a candidate with the same broad, racially transcendent appeal as Obama. Hmph. Fat chance. The video implies that the Black folks looking misty-eyed and saying nice things about Romney are NAACP members. Unbelievable. It makes his NAACP speech look well-received when the opposite is true. It’s shameful straightup propaganda — a lie to put a smiling mask on Romney’s policies which are hostile to better outcomes and opportunities for African-Americans. And note that the video omits any mention of the controversy over healthcare and focuses on what we can all agree on — more jobs.

Contee may be right — this video might be more an attempt to court white voters than it is an effort to get Black votes. But if it’s not, and if Romney actually thinks that what he’s doing is winning over African-Americans, you have to wonder how much he’s thought this through? It seems that every other week, the Romney campaign is making a fool of itself trying to get Black votes, and every other week, the Black community responds by completely ignoring Romney.

I’m certainly no campaign manager, but maybe it’s time for Romney and his team to cut their losses. While it’s great to see both political parties fighting for Black votes, if Republicans can’t do it without the condescension that seems to come with every attempt, then perhaps they shouldn’t do it at all.


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(Photo: Eric Kayne/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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