Today, presumptive Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney gave a speech to an assembly of NAACP members in which he said, "if you people could just understand me, you would vote for me." We're paraphrasing. What he actually said was this:
I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president.
Okay, so we didn't have to paraphrase that much. Not surprisingly, the reaction from the crowd was not enthusiastic. There's something about hearing a patronizing politician telling people, essentially, that it's their fault that they don't get how wonderful he would be for them. Thinkprogress.org was at the speech and has this report:
The crowd booed Romney when he called for the full repeal of Obamacare and audibly laughed when he suggested he would be a better president than Obama for the African-American community. Also notable was what was left unsaid. Romney failed to address voting rights, which is a major theme of this NAACP gathering.
ThinkProgress was on the scene and talked to some NAACP members after Romney’s speech to get their thoughts. James Waters said some of Romney’s comments were “patronizing,” while Joe Brown argued that Romney “made a serious misjudgment relating to the health care reform.” Allytra Perryman went even further: “I don’t think he has any way to even remotely relate to the everyday citizen, let alone African-American citizens.”
The NAACP had this to say, in a prepared statement:
This morning Governor Romney laid out his policy agenda for this nation. Unfortunately, much of his agenda is at odds with what the NAACP stands for – whether the issue is equal access to affordable health care, reforming our education system or the path forward on marriage equality. We appreciate that he was courageous and took the opportunity to speak with us directly.”
Wait for the right wing spin of "see, those black people are racist toward white guys" in three... two... one...
Hidden in that statement is an interesting phrase, that marriage equality (AKA gay marriage) is important to the NAACP. This is new. But that's a post for another day. Back to Romney. One of his advisors admitted that the speech was a photo op anyway:
Another campaign adviser told BuzzFeed that Romney's attendance at the convention wasn't primarily intended to break off a portion of the black vote, but to make clear to moderates that he intends to be an inclusive president.
"I think it's important to send a message that he's going to be president of the entire United States," said the adviser.
So, let's see if we have this right: Romney gave a patronizing "why don't you understand me?" speech to the largest and oldest Black organization in the country, just so white voters on the fence can say, "see, at least he's trying to reach out to those people." Is that it? Well, then, maybe it was mission accomplished.
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