Mark P. Jones, chairman of the political science department at Rice University, said Mr. Obama likely believes his time is better spent in battleground states and areas with strong concentrations of black voters instead of taking time to travel to red-state Texas to speak to a group that even some blacks have trouble embracing.
“The NAACP has some problems being relevant even among African-American voters,” Mr. Jones said. “There’s a substantial proportion that aren’t entirely satisfied with the NAACP and don’t view it as relevant as it was in the past. It’s not an omnipotent organization. The president has far more support on his own than the NAACP. … Even though he would like their support, he doesn’t need it.”
Picking his shots
Mr. Obama is planning to speak to the National Urban League, another prominent black advocacy group, at its annual meeting July 25-28 in New Orleans.
Last month, a week after announcing an immigration directive that could legalize more than 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, the president traveled to Orlando, Fla., to make a direct appeal to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Mr. Romney appeared at the conference a day earlier in an attempt to soften the hard-line opposition to illegal immigration he espoused during the primary by pledging to loosen some restrictions on the flow of legal foreign workers.
Drawing a sharp contrast, Mr. Obama reminded the crowd of Mr. Romney’s opposition to the Dream Act, the legislation intended to put many illegal immigrant students and veterans on a path to citizenship. Congress defeated the bill with strong Republican opposition. While he opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants who came to the country as children, Mr. Romney backs the policy of granting citizenship to veterans.
In the days since, some Hispanic leaders have questioned whether Mr. Obama’s edict causes more problems than it solves by creating a class of people who are neither fully legal nor fully illegal.
As more questions about his directive surfaced, Mr. Obama subsequently skipped the League of United Latin American Citizens’ conference at Walt Disney World on June 28, sending Mr. Holder instead. Mr. Holder also appeared last weekend in Mr. Obama’s place at the National Council of La Raza Convention in Las Vegas.
Mr. Obama attended all three Hispanic conferences in 2008, but doing so this year could cost the president some independent voters by keeping the focus on the administration’s renewed push for the Dream Act.