Compiled by Courier Staff
This week Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed the 103rd NAACP Annual Convention in Houston, TX. The speech took place during a plenary session on civic engagement that later featured a panel of experts speaking about voting rights and voter suppression.
“We are pleased that Governor Romney addressed our convention today,” stated NAACP chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “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.”
“While we are glad that Governor Romney recognized the power of the Black electorate, he laid out an agenda that was antithetical to many of our interests,” stated NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous. “His criticism of the Affordable Care Act – legislation that will improve access to quality health care for millions – signals his fundamental misunderstanding of the needs of many African Americans.”
Romney stated, “”I’m going to eliminate every non-essential, expensive program I can find, that includes Obamacare, and I’m going to work to reform and save –”
The audience immediately began to boo him for his reference. Many believe that he purposefully used the politically charged term, ‘Obamacare’ rather than the correct term of the Affordable Care Act, to initiate the response.
He then hit a moment of about 15 seconds of awkwardness, and continued with, “”You know, there was a survey of the Chamber of Commerce — they carried out a survey of their members, about 1,500 surveyed, and uh, they asked them what effect Obamacare would have on their plans, and three-quarters of them said it made them less likely to hire people,” he said when the booing stopped. “So I say, again, that if our priority is jobs, and that’s my priority, that’s something I’d change and replace.”
Romney also told the audience the following, “With 90 percent of African Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African- American community, and to address the NAACP,” Romney said. “Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.”
He also stated that if he didn’t believe that he could better serve African American’s needs better than President Obama, then he would not be asking for their support.
The theme of this year’s convention, running July 7-12, is “Your Power, Your Decision – VOTE”. The convention builds on the Association’s voter engagement and empowerment initiatives, with advocacy workshops on a myriad of vital issues, including civic engagement, health care, criminal justice, and climate justice.
Romney failed to address the major concerns of one of the largest battles that the NAACP has been fighting all year, and that is voter suppression efforts nationwide. It was clear to many in attendance, that he is out of touch with the pulse of not only people of color, but the working class, the middle class and the poor. He just doesn’t get it.