In the long sojourn a political candidate must trek on his way toward election day there are, as with many things in life, high points and low points. There are some audiences so receptive that a candidate can practically read a phone book to raucous applause and then there are those days where a candidate can recite winning lottery tickets to the sound of crickets. Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s speech during an annual convention of the Houston, Texas chapter of the NAACP saw the latter of the two possibilities. Facing a crowd that pundits and politicians of both sides of the aisle openly acknowledge as firm supporters of President Obama, Romney knew it was going to be an uphill battle- one the crowd never let him forget.
Worse than disinterest, Romney was met with open boos when he suggested, "If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him." Apparently they considered this sentiment insincere. Even heckling broke out, which has been a rising trend against not only Romney, but Obama, and even David Axelrod as of late. When Romney suggested the crowd “take a look around”, in reference to their own plights under the president’s first term, a woman toward the front of the crowd declared vehemently, “No!” If this was the worst of the humbling outbursts it would have been marring enough but when Romney declared, "I'm going to eliminate every expensive, non-essential program. That includes Obamacare," he endured sustained booing from the entire crowd that lasted over a full ten seconds. The booing only continued when Romney criticized the president’s ability to create new jobs, “he will not, he cannot, and his record of the last four years proves it."
When leaving the stage, Romney did receive a standing ovation but many there considered this in gratitude for his appearance and not his message. With 90% of African American recently polled in strong support of the president, why would Romney take the stage with divisive rhetoric? On the surface it could be that his message is not just for his base. He intends on speaking to all American voters whether or not they believe in his message to show that he can be an inclusive mediator between opposing ideals. Perhaps a more cynical presumption may be that Romney entered into the heart of his strongest opposition and kept to a stalwart conservative message as a signal to the rest of his supporters across the country that he will not be bowed, and will broker no compromise on the whims of public sentiment. The latter seems to be a more accurate account based on his words at a Montana fundraiser later that night. In reference to those in Houston that booed him, “Remind them of this: if they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy -- more free stuff. But don't forget, nothing is really free." Instead of bringing constituents of differing opinion and values together Romney went against the grain in Houston and then used their disapproval of his message to bolster his platforms to a more conservative audience in Montana. It is flippant reversals of sentiment like that in Montana that leave the republican candidate appearing hollow and insincere among many of his detractors.
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POSTED 07/13/2012 12:27