Ed Driscoll

'I'm Surprised the President was a No-Show'

In his “Morning Jolt” email column, Jim Geraghty reviews Mitt Romney’s appearance at the NAACP and writes that it has broad ramifications beyond merely the speech itself. “As many people noted, Romney’s target audience wasn’t in that room,” Jim writes:

(Garrett Haake of NBC News pointed out, “In June’s NBC/WSJ poll, President Obama led Romney 92% to 1% among African Americans.” ) His target audience was beyond that room, everyone who would see the speech, or excerpts of it. Remember, Obamacare is still pretty darn unpopular in most recent polls; the sight of Romney getting booed for promising to repeal an unpopular law can’t be that much of a political liability.

For what it’s worth, Romney said he expected it:

Shortly after a speech at the NAACP convention where he was booed, Mitt Romney said Wednesday he “expected” the crowd’s negative reaction to his remarks.

Romney drew a few round of boos during the address in Houston, in which he asserted his plan to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform law should he make it to the Oval Office. But the crowd wasn’t entirely unreceptive to Romney, as he also received several applause lines, with occasional bursts of organ music, as well.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee defended his speech in an interview later in the day.

“I think we expected that,” he said on Fox Business Network, referring to the audience’s negative response. “I am going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs.”

And in the surprise of the afternoon, Wolf Blitzer tore into Obama for not appearing before the NAACP. It was so unexpected, and out of character for Blitzer, that I wondered if I dreamed it. Thankfully, Kathryn Lopez transcribed it:

Here is something I’d like to say to President Obama: You should have attended the NAACP convention in Houston today. Mitt Romney did. It was the right thing to do. The Republican knows the nation’s oldest civil-rights group isn’t exactly friendly turf but went anyway. On the whole, got a polite reception, but was booed when he said this: [from videotape] “I’m going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find, that includes Obamacare.” Despite the boos, it was a smart political move for Mitt Romney to address the NAACP. He knows he is not going to win over a lot of black voters, but attending these kinds of events is important in reassuring a lot of the suburban white voters that he is a moderate, decent politician, someone that wants to work with all Americans. I’m surprised the president was a no-show. He is sending Vice President Joe Biden, will send a video. I checked the president’s schedule for today. He is here in Washington, D.C., over at the White House. He’s got meetings. I assume those meetings are very important. But he could have found time to pay his respects to the NAACP. The president should not take the African-American vote for granted.

Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” I wonder what percentage applies to success in politics.

And as quite a few people noted, President Obama has never addressed an audience as predisposed to disagree with him as Romney did Wednesday.

And then there’s this item from the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin:

After the speech, conservative S.E. Cupp of MSNBC quoted Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.): “Cleaver just said Romney should not have criticized Obama in front of black audience.”

Really? As Cleaver’s fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton is wont to say — at least was, in an earlier incarnation, “I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration” — and in front of any audience.