“If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him,” Romney said. When the crowd booed and hissed, he said, “You take a look.”
Romney made a direct appeal for support from black voters, who polls show overwhelmingly back the reelection of the nation’s first black president. Romney said his policies would help black families succeed in a sputtering economy, with rising federal debt and poor schools.
He also highlighted his father’s civil rights legacy as governor of Michigan and tried to build a bridge with black voters by talking about their shared faith in God and support of strong families.
“I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president,” Romney said. “I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color — and families of any color — more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I wouldn’t be running for president.”
Romney said that black families have suffered disproportionately under the Obama presidency, noting that the unemployment rate for African Americans rose to 14.4 percent last month, while the overall rate was 8.2 percent.
“If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone,” he said. “Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way.”
Romney asked black voters to give him “a fair hearing” and promised that if he is elected, and if the NAACP invites him to return, he would address the group next year and “count it as a privilege.”
“In campaigns at their best, voters can expect a clear choice, and candidates can expect a fair hearing — only more so from a venerable organization like this one,” he said.
The hundreds of African Americans in attendance at the NAACP’s national convention in Houston gave Romney polite although subdued applause. But he received a loud and sustained spattering of boos when he referenced his opposition to the health-care law he called “Obamacare,” when he said Obama’s policies are not helping to create jobs and when he said he would be a better president for black families. Many portions of his speech received reserved cheers, such as his promise to defend traditional marriage, and many black voters in the audience stood to applaud him when he finished.