Romney and the NAACP

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 11 2012 9:39 AM

Romney and the NAACP

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The candidate in Houston today, making a speech, effectively, to black America. It will not win him many black votes, and that's why it's so interesting to read. In early excerpts, Romney returns to the theme he's used with every potential voter wedge. Forget your pet issues. Look at the jobs numbers.

If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way. The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, and median family wealth are all worse for the black community. In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent. Americans of every background are asking when this economy will finally recover – and you, in particular, are entitled to an answer.
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There's some policy here (keep track of this, lazy columnists), though it's not new.

I will give the parents of every low-income and special needs student the chance to choose where their child goes to school.  For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to a student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school, or to a private school, where permitted.  And I will make that a true choice by ensuring there are good options available to all. 

Romney and other Republicans have tried, for years, to exploit the fact that black voters in urban areas generally find themselves supporting school choice. Democrats stop it -- the Obama administration took giant strides to stop it in D.C. George W. Bush worked harder than any national Republican to try and make something of this affinity, but he won Goldwater levels of the black vote.

That's the policy, anyway. The line that will probably survive the speech:

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.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.