Two prominent black mayors on Wednesday had harsh words for Mitt Romney’s speech to the NAACP’s national convention, arguing that the presumptive GOP nominee is “a joke,” that his speech was a political stunt, and that the audience’s booing was an “appropriate” response to Romney’s pledge to repeal the national health-care law.
Romney “was trying to pull off a reverse Sister Souljah moment” with the speech, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) told reporters Wednesday afternoon on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee. “It makes him look like he’s having character and integrity when he wasn’t really speaking to the NAACP audience at all. He’s aware what’s going on in Congress today, and those are the individuals he was speaking to,” Reed said.
Reed was referring to Bill Clinton’s denunciation of racially-charged remarks made by rap star Sister Souljah during the 1992 campaign; the episode later became political shorthand for an instance of a politician seeking to take a stand against certain elements of his or her own party.
Romney on Wednesday was booed several times by attendees at the NAACP conference in Houston, including when he told the crowd that he would “eliminate expensive, non-essential programs like Obamacare.”
Reed, who was joined on Wednesday’s call by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D), argued that Romney “never displays that kind of integrity or character or courage” in standing up to commentator Rush Limbaugh, musician Ted Nugent or other conservative firebrands.
“He didn’t display that kind of character and courage when the young law student in Georgetown was disparaged, but he’ll come to the heart of the NAACP and say that Obamacare should be repealed,” Reed said of Romney, adding that the presumptive GOP nominee’s statement on Obamacare was “wholly inappropriate, and the reaction from the NAACP was appropriate.”
“To his base, it will make him look strong, but he never stands up to anybody else,” Reed said.
Nutter, who in May strongly criticized Romney’s visit to a West Philadelphia charter school, said that the presumptive GOP nominee will “go where he goes, he’ll say what he says, and he’ll get what he gets.”
“Look, he’s a grown man; he’s been around the block a couple of times,” Nutter said. “I think Mayor Reed is absolutely correct. This is comparable to the little stunt out in West Philadelphia a couple of months ago. ... This is all for the optics. I said that back then; I’ll say it again today. He’s going through the motions.”
“He’s in a campaign; I can’t take any of this stuff seriously,” Nutter added. “At a certain level, he’s running for president of the United States. But the guy’s a joke. He’s ... virtually perpetrating fraud on the American public with a lot of this stuff.”
Asked whether they were surprised by the boos from the audience on Wednesday, both mayors said they were not. Reed argued that Romney should be “well aware of the number of African Americans that will be covered under the Affordable Care Act.”
Nutter told reporters that “black folks are not going to sit there and listen to some of that nonsense.”
“You walk into the NAACP and talk about repealing the signature program of President Obama — 7 million African Americans would be covered under the Affordable Care Act than before the Act ... Clearly, Mitt Romney has no real plan for the African-American community and quite frankly, I haven’t really heard any plan for America,” Nutter said. “So nobody’s paying any attention to his nonsense.”