Romney woos black vote
By GEOFF HOLTZMAN
Talk Radio News Service
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued his most direct appeal to African American voters on Wednesday, delivering a customized stump speech to the NAACP’s annual conference in Houston, Texas.
The theme of Romney’s address was threefold: stronger families, more jobs and better education.
He promoted traditional marriage, a line that actually earned him mild applause from the crowd, despite the NAACP’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage.
A number of black voters are still wary of allowing gay couples to wed, but polls show that more of them are beginning to drop their opposition. President Obama, who has not addressed the NAACP thus far during his presidency, declared his support for same-sex marriage back in May.
Shifting to the economy, Romney assured the crowd that his business background, and belief in the free market would benefit African Americans, who are disproportionately faced with a significantly higher unemployment rate than the national average.
“I’ve never heard anyone look around an impoverished neighborhood and say, “You know, there’s too much free enterprise around here. Too many shops, too many jobs, too many people putting money in the bank,” he said.
However, his multi-step jobs plan — more energy production, fairer trade with China, less regulation of business — was low on specifics, a trademark of Romney’s campaign so far. Moreover, his promise to repeal Obamacare earned him boos from the audience.
Predictably, Romney was not nearly as well-received as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose speech on Tuesday was interrupted several times by raucous ovations and cheers.
But neither was he booed off the stage.
In fact, Romney generated mildly sustained applauses for his pledge to means-test senior benefits like Medicare and Social Security, and his stated goal to support greater access to school choice for inner-city students.
“I will give the parents of every low-income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school,” he said. “For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to a student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school, or to a private school, where permitted. And I will make that a true choice by ensuring there are good options available to all.”
In the world of public speaking, it’s all about knowing your audience, and perhaps that’s why Romney spent very little time attacking President Obama. At one point, he told the audience that Obama’s economic record indicates that he has failed to help blacks find jobs. At another, he accused Obama of waging class warfare. But otherwise, almost all of Romney’s patented attacks against the president were absent.
Instead, the GOP candidate focused more on clarifying his image with minority voters who generally perceive him as wealthy, out of touch and easily persuaded to abandon any core philosophical principles he may have.
“The opposition charges that I and people in my party are running for office to help the rich. Nonsense,” Romney said. “The rich will do just fine whether I am elected or not. The President wants to make this a campaign about blaming the rich. I want to make this a campaign about helping the middle class.”
“I am running for president because I know that my policies and vision will help hundreds of millions of middle class Americans of all races, will lift people from poverty, and will help prevent people from becoming poor,” he added. “My campaign is about helping the people who need help. The course the President has set has not done that – and will not do that. My course will.”
For Romney, the question isn’t whether he’ll be able to steal the black vote from Obama this year — that appears to be an overwhelming long-shot. The real question is whether he can convince undecided voters that not only does he have the tools needed to fix the economy, but that, despite his tax reform plan, which has been lampooned by liberals, he truly is a champion of the middle class.
Short URL: http://reportergary.com/?p=26007