In the hours since he left the stage, a growing number of Democrats and their supporters are starting to say the whole raucous scene was an elaborate set-up.
Every response — positive and negative — Romney got from the crowd at the NAACP conference in Houston has handed Democrats and allies an opening to suggest Romney had the whole thing worked out before hand.
The Applause Was Fake
Romney got a lot of polite applause, and even some serious clapping from the NAACP crowd when he went against the group’s official stance and spoke out against gay marriage.
After the speech, Romney noted the positive response.
“At the end of my speech having a standing ovation was generous and hospitable on the part of the audience,” he told Fox News Wednesday. “While we disagree on some issues like Obamacare, a lot of issues we see eye to eye.”
That applause was fake, said one top NAACP official. Hilary Shelton, the group’s vice president for advocacy, told MSNBC Wednesday night that the cheers Romney talked about actually came from Romney supporters brought in by his campaign specifically for his speech.
“Quite frankly, the campaign actually gave me a list of African-American VIPs that they brought into the NAACP meeting,” Shelton said. “They’re bringing people in that they know will support his agenda from other places, that aren’t active with the NAACP. These are people who are brought in to actually provide the cheering for him, so there will be some support along those lines.”
The Romney campaign dismissed Shelton’s comments. “Not true,” a campaign spokesperson told MSNBC.
The Boos Were Manufactured
The three times Romney was booed by the crowd at the NAACP — prompting some criticism from conservatives — were actually carefully orchestrated by the Romney campaign, top Democrats say.
“I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg Wednesday.
“I felt terrible when the booing started, but I also believe … staff members who vetted that speech or inserted some of the things that I heard, they should be fired,” Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver told reporters. “I mean, how in the world would you stand up in front of the NAACP and say that you oppose Obamacare?”
Romney told Fox that he expected to get booed when he spoke to the NAACP. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the Democratic allegations that the boos were calculated by his campaign.