Let's be honest -- Mitt Romney could not have expected to receive overwhelming support yesterday when he spoke to the NAACP national convention in Houston. After all, African-Americans are a reliably Democrat voting bloc, and with a black president in the White House, it was unlikely that a white challenger would get much support from the audience. As it was, the reception was about as warm as might have been expected.
"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," he said. "I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color -- and families of any color -- more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president."
His audience greeted him with respectful, if not enthusiastic applause, and applauded occasionally at points throughout the speech –- until he said he would eliminate ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court two weeks ago. The audience responded with thundering boos. His listeners also booed a few minutes later when he said he would be a more responsive president to the African-American community than the current occupant of the White House.
Frankly, it showed a certain amount of courage for Romney to walk into that hall and speak to that audience. And I'll note that it took a level of courage that we will never see from Barack Obama. The President, you see, is noted for not speaking to audiences that are likely to be hostile -- indeed, he goes out of his way to make sure that his speaking events are either filled with supporters or include those whose polite reception he can coerce. You will never, for example, see Obama stand up before an audience of Tea Party activists -- a group that would be as likely to support him as the NAACP is likely to back Romney -- and make the case for his policies. That would take a level of political courage that the incumbent just does not have.