Presidential race and NAACP

This years NAACP convention has received a great deal more attention this year. Presidetial candidate Gov. Mitt Romney’s speech before the civil rights organization was not received well. Aside from telling the audience that he would be better for black Americans than our black president, Romney also got booed after saying he would repeal the Affordable Care Act. The governor really missed an opportunity here to broaden his base.

Romney is already struggling to shake off the image that his candidacy is built on rich white men. Support among women is low for the Republican; with minority support even more embarrassing. If Romney wants to win he needs to appeal to a larger audience. His speech has only sowed more discord amongst black voters. The Governor could have at least tried to pander to his audience. He might still have been booed, but at least he could have said he tried. Now he is stuck looking like a rich out of touch white guy. The speech seemed designed more for his white base than for his black audience. Governor Romney wanted to assure the conservative white electorate that he still has their interests at heart. He is terrified of upsetting his base. So terrified he is willing to go before the most prominent civil rights group in America and berate the first black president. It is fair to say that the strategy being used by Team Romney is one based solely on the white vote. It will now be that much harder for Romney to demonstrate he will be a President for all Americans.

Perhaps more interesting was the Presidents absence from the convention. Administration officials claimed that a scheduling problem prevented the President from addressing the NAACP. This is quite a weak reason for not attending the convention. How could President Obama, in an election year, not have marked this day on the calendar? Obama has been criticized by many as taking the black vote for granted. Missing the NAACP reinforces this notion. Perhaps it was a smart political move though. Using Vice President Biden allows for the president to send a message he may not politically get away with. True to form, Biden gave a vociferous speech on the dangers of electing Romney. Listening to him you might think that Romney is the second coming of the Klan. Biden took particular care to mention that a vote for Romney would result in policies that would restrict the voting rights of Black Americans. If the President had made a speech like Biden’s he would undoubtedly be attacked for playing the race card.
While his speech was received with great fanfare, the presidents absence is still a negative. There’s no doubt that President Obama will win the lions share of the black vote; if not the whole vote entirely. The issue is whether the black vote will be as large as it was in 2008. The alienation that many Black Americans feel towards the President is real. So real that it could effect the election. No politician should ever take a voting block for granted. Black Americans are in much more dire economic shape than whites. While they won’t vote for Romney, they may not vote for Obama in the same numbers they did in 2008. The President has made overtures to the Hispanic vote with his executive order of the dream act; his decision to not uphold DOMA has helped him among the gay community. Where is his political gesture to the black vote? Most black voters, if not all, will vote for
Obama. But if black voters stay home it could be the nail in the coffin for President Obama’s reelection.

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