An official with the NAACP suggested that Republican challenger Mitt Romney brought his own black supporters to the NAACP speech yesterday to give the appearance that NAACP members were applauding him. And when Romney later told Fox News that black people at the event gave him a standing ovation and said in a private meeting they would vote for him because of dissatisfaction with Obama, they were actually his own people, the official suggested.
The revelation was made on MSNBC’s “Ed Show” by Hilary Shelton, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy and the Director of the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, who said Romney flew in black conservatives to stand up at the end of his speech, allowing Romney to claim he got a standing ovation.
“I spoke with a number of African-American leaders after the event and they said, you know a lot of folks don’t want to say they’re not going to be voting for Barack Obama, but they’re disappointed in his lack of policies to improve our schools,” Romney said in an appearance on Fox, where he said he expected to get booed by the crowd and he also claimed he got a standing ovation. “Disappointed in urban policies, disappointed in the economy. 14.4% rate of unemployment among African-Americans today. The president has not been able to get the job done. People want to see someone who can get the economy going, so I expect to get African-American votes.”
Hilary Shelton told MSNBC host Ed Schultz that the only African Americans Romney met with after his speech were those that he brought with him. He never met with any NAACP members. So while he wasn’t explicitly lying about meeting with black leaders at the convention, either he or somebody on his campaign knew that he was intentionally misleading Fox viewers.
Many analysts have also questioned Romney’s motives behind going to the NAACP convention and purposely inciting the crowd by referring to the healthcare plan as “Obamacare,” a term originated among conservatives and intended to be derogatory name-calling, and saying he would try to repeal it. In a piece on The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky suggested that Romney sought the boos to excite his base of conservative white voters.
“That speech wasn’t to the NAACP. It was to Rush Limbaugh. It was to Tea Party Nation. It was to Fox News,” Tomasky wrote. “You don’t go into the NAACP and use the word “Obamacare” and think that you’re not going to hear some boos. It’s a heavily loaded word, and Romney and his people know very well that liberals and the president’s supporters consider it an insult. He and his team had to know those boos were coming…Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story ‘Romney Booed at NAACP’ would jazz up their (very white) base…We learned a great deal about Mitt Romney yesterday, and what we learned only adds to the picture of this little, plastic fellow who thinks he can get points from white moderates (as explained by an aide to BuzzFeed) by appearing at the NAACP while generating high-fives on the white right for rubbing dirt in the faces of its members while there.”