(The Root) — In his speech at the NAACP Annual Convention on Wednesday, things started off well for Mitt Romney. Addressing the civil rights organization in Houston, the Republican presidential candidate acknowledged the gulf between the GOP and black voters.
“With 90 percent of African Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African-American community, and to address the NAACP,” Romney said. “Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between.
“But there is another reason: 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.”
With that, the former Massachusetts governor set off to explain how his policies and leadership will help black people more than those of President Obama. Ticking off the long-standing racial disparities around employment, income and educational achievement, he suggested that more African Americans ought to consider some alternatives.
“I’m hopeful that together we can set a new direction in federal policy, starting where many of our problems do: with the family,” Romney said, citing a Brookings Institution study that found that graduating from high school, waiting until age 21 to get married and having children after marriage drastically reduce one’s chances of being poor.
“Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country, and that must be our goal. As president, I will promote strong families — and I will defend traditional marriage,” he said to applause from the audience.
Romney went on to promote, to more applause, free enterprise as the key to economic growth and security. “I’ve never heard anyone look around an impoverished neighborhood and say, ‘You know, there’s too much free enterprise around here,’ ” he said.
“Free enterprise is still the greatest force for upward mobility, economic security and the expansion of the middle class. We have seen in recent years what it’s like to have less free enterprise. As president, I will show the good things that can happen when we have more — more business activity, more jobs, more opportunity, more paychecks, more savings accounts.”
Where Things Went Wrong