Suddenly, the moribund 2012 presidential campaign heats up a bit.
The headlines today read (some version) of this story: Mitt Romney booed at NAACP Annual Meeting."
I took part of my lunch time to listen to the speech. Mr. Romney received applause that bordered on enthusiasm (by my count) at least eight times. He received polite applause another nine times.
Mr. Romney was booed once.
He was booed when he mentioned "Obamacare." He was booed loudly and long. It seemed to me Mr. Romney's speech was fair, balanced and well presented. This is not always the case. He had done some thinking about this one and his speech writers did a good job.
He got booed once, when he mentioned Mr. Obama, because he wanted to get booed. Mr. Romney could not go to the NAACP meeting and not get booed, unless he just royally pandered to the crowd in the hall. He can pander. He proved that at the Tea Party convention and Sarah Palin spanked him for it.
Mr. Romney spoke to his base, over the heads of the people in the NAACP convention. More than 95% of African-American voters polled for Mr. Obama in 2008. Mr. Obama is polling at 95% of the same voters today. Mr. Obama will win that part of the vote and Mr. Romney is too smart not to know it. Therefore, Mr. Romney was speaking to the global crowd when he went to the Houston meeting. He showed up, smiled and spoke well.
He spoke about education and family and tax cutting. He was canny to speak about family values among conservative, values specific people, like African-Americans, where Mr. Obama's recent approval of same-sex unions has not played well.. The black community did not care for Mr. Obama's advocacy of same-sex unions.
Mr. Romney repeatedly used the second person plural "you," to describe the assembled NAACP group and their interests. In this way, he put some distance between him and them, not using the usual "we" and "us" a politician might more readily use. In so doing, he subtly told his base outside the convention hall he was different from his hearers.
Mr. Romney went, smiled, spoke and made no major gaffes. He is not a great public speaker but he seemed to thrive in a tough environment for a man of his social standing and immense personal wealth. Mr. Romney did not hurt himself at the NAACP convention meeting, no matter how the headlines read.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.