In an add-on to John’s post about Mitt Romney appearing before the NAACP, I suggested that a key purpose of such an appearance is to to satisfy white voters, especially moderates, that he cares about African-Americans. All Republican presidential candidates gain by comforting swing voters on this score. But because he is running against the first African-American president, it was particularly important for Romney to undertake the exercise.
Doing so is not without risk. A Republican candidate appearing before the NAACP must be a good guest, otherwise he will undermine his mission. But he must not pander, or else he will lose points with everyone for inauthenticity.
Mitt Romney avoided these pitfalls and accomplished his mission today. Romney did not pander; he promised to repeal Obamacare knowing that this statement wouldn’t be well-received. In fact, it drew boos from the audience. But no one will deem Romney a bad guest for stating his well-known position – a nationally popular one – on this key issue.
Much of the rest of Romney’s speech was reasonably well-received, for example his comments, quoting from former NAACP head Benjamin Hooks, about the role of strong families as the bulwark against poverty. Romney also drew applause for promising to defend the traditional concept of marriage, i.e., the union of a man and a woman. In fact, Romney received a standing ovation at the end of his address.
For swing voters who paid attention to the event, then, Romney’s appearance should bolster his appearance as a candidate who cares about all Americans and is will to reach out to a group that monolithically opposes his candidacy.
In other words, a good day’s work.
JOHN adds: I hope you’re right, but as far as I can see the only thing that is being reported about his appearance is that he got booed. It is hard to see how that can help him.