Toby Harnden, Daily Mail (London), July 12, 2012
The Romney campaign has been accused of deliberately getting the Republican presidential candidate booed by black people during his NAACP speech to attract votes ‘in certain racist precincts’, by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell.
Romney was booed for 15 seconds at the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People conference in Houston on Wednesday when he stated he would ‘eliminate’ unnecessary programmes like the Obamacare health reform.
Democrats united in saying that Romney planned to get booed to appeal to his conservative base. But O’Donnell and his guests went a step further by saying that Romney was making a play for white racists.
Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives, told Bloomberg Television: “I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention.’
Discussing the speech on his ‘Last Word’ show with Goldie Taylor, a liberal writer and commentator, O’Donnell highlighted ‘the Southern strategy that Republicans have used since [President Richard] Nixon and started a little bit before that, where there`s actually an almost overt sometimes appeal to racial and racist voting.’
He then asked: ‘And tell me, Goldie, if I`m being too cynical, to think that the Romney campaign actually went in that room today with the hope of getting booed, at least three times, because they want the video of their candidate being booed by the NAACP to play in certain racist precincts where that will actually help them?’
Taylor responded that ‘I don`t think you`re being too cynical at all’, adding that Romney ‘used a word like “Obamacare,” which is a derisive term for the Affordable Care Act’.
O’Donnell then brought up Romney’s Mormon faith. Romney had told the NAACP that if Americans had been told ‘in the 1950s or 1960s that a black citizen would serve as the 44th of the United States, we would have been proud and many would have been surprised.’
The MSNBC host noted that the Mormon church did not allow black men to become persists until 1978. ‘And so it would have been even more shocking and surprising to say to him, in the 1960s, a black citizen might become the president of the Mormon Church. That`s even more far-fetched.’
This comment was echoed by the writer and television host Toure, another guest, who added: ‘This is a classic Republican strategy that we saw today. Using black people to score points with white people, as we`ve said already, the real audience was not in the room. He`s talking to white people.’
Toure also opined: ‘He wants to get booed. It makes him either look tough and strong to the white people watching, or make him look sympathetic to the white people watching.’
Romney, who had said that he ‘expected’ a negative response at the NAACP conference, told donors in Montana on Wednesday evening: ‘I don’t give different speeches to different audiences, alright. I gave them the same speech. When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren’t happy, I didn’t get the same response.
‘That’s OK, I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine.’
Vice President Joe Biden addressed the NAACP on Thursday morning in what amounted to a rebuttal of Romney’s controversial speech.
President Barack Obama decided at the last minute not to attend, citing a ‘scheduling conflict’.
Romney knew he would be facing a potentially hostile crowd at the NAACP conference – more than 95 per cent of blacks voted for President Barack Obama four years ago.
But he seemed briefly stunned by the booing and catcalling from the audience and departed from his prepared remarks to argue that Obama’s healthcare reform would cause businesses to shed jobs.
The former Massachusetts governor’s reception was initially polite, even warm at times. But that changed when he said: ‘I’m going to eliminate every non-essential expensive programme I can find, that includes Obamacare.’
Abandoning his script, he quelled the boos by saying: ‘You know, there was a survey of the Chamber of Commerce, they carried out a survey of their members, about 1500 were surveyed.
‘And they asked them what effected that Obamacare would have on their plans and three-quarters of them said it would make them less likely to hire people.
‘So I say again if our priority is jobs and that’s my priority that’s something I’d change and I will replace with something that provides people something they need in healthcare, which is lower cost, good quality , a capacity to deal with people who have pre-existing conditions and I’ll put that in place.’
Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, told CNN that the crowd was ‘right to boo’ because ‘Obamacare’ was ‘derogatory terminology used by an intolerant group of Americans’.
Back in March, however, the Obama campaign fully embraced the term Obamacare, formerly mainly the preserve of conservative critics of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, sent out an email saying: ‘I like Obamacare. I’m proud of it — and you should be, too. Here’s why: Because it works. So if you’re with me, say it: “I like Obamacare.”‘