Mitt Romney carried his promise of across-the-board economic revival to the nation's leading black civil rights group Wednesday, but drew boos when he talked of repealing President Obama's health care law.
Some in the audience at the NAACP convention in Houston chuckled at his assertion that he's the best political fit for the black community and it became clear attendees would be tough for Mr. Romney to win over – especially when matched against the first black president.
"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," said Mr. Romney, the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, as he acknowledged the difficulty of his appeal.
The former Massachusetts governor won applause when he promised to "represent all Americans – of every race, creed or sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between."
But his appeal dimmed when he said that in his quest to reduce spending, "I will eliminate expensive nonessential programs like Obamacare" and the president "cannot" deliver on his promises – sparking prolonged and then scattered boos.
Minorities played a key role in Mr. Obama's presidential run in 2008, with the Democrat capturing 95 percent of the black vote and 67 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Analysts said the president will need to match those numbers again to win re-election.
Mr. Obama is sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden to address the NAACP on Thursday. Mr. Biden spoke to Hispanic leaders at the National Council of La Raza's conference earlier this week.
The latest three-week average from the Gallup Poll shows that 87 percent of black voters support Mr. Obama, with just 5 percent support Mr. Romney.
"Our polling shows that the Republican candidates in recent elections has virtually gotten none of the black vote, so there is probably very little chance that Romney is going to get much of the black vote on Election Day," said Frank Newport with of Gallup.
But David Bositis, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said there are reasons Mr. Romney made his foray Wednesday.
"By appearing, he may be trying to signal to (the tiny pool of) swing voters that he is reasonable and trying to reach out to everyone," said Mr. Bositis, or, he added, Mr. Romney might have gone to try to win favor with conservatives by attacking the president on what is, essentially, his home turf.
In his speech Wednesday, Mr. Romney made references to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and waxed about how his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney marched for civil rights in Detroit.
He also rejiggered his normal stump speech, putting greater emphasis on his support of traditional marriage, talking about the the importance of two-parent households and casting himself as a champion of expanded school choice, touting it as a way to bridge the gap between black and white educational acheivement.
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