In his speech to the NAACP’s national convention Wednesday, Mitt Romney will focus on the economy and its poor performance for black Americans. He’ll also claim that he, not President Obama, is uniquely capable of solving black America’s economic problems.
In excerpts of his speech distributed prior to Romney’s address, the projected Republican nominee doesn’t touch on issues like voter ID laws, which the NAACP and other civil rights groups believe disproportionately affect poor and minority voters. The push to make it more difficult to vote by Republican-led legislatures has been a central focus of the NAACP convention.
Attorney General Eric Holder won the convention’s approval Monday when he deviated from his remarks to condemn such efforts as “poll taxes.”
Romney appears to sidestep the subject entirely, instead pitching black voters on his candidacy with an entirely economics-focused approach. Black unemployment is far higher than the national average. It’s also right out of the Romney playbook: The economy-only approach is one he’s used when talking to Hispanics, women and other groups.
“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,” Romney says, according to the prepared remarks.
Romney notes that racial inequality still exists, but offers no solution beyond his economic message:
Old inequities persist. In some ways, the challenges are even more complicated than before. And across America — and even within your own ranks — there are serious, honest debates about the way forward. 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.
Polls have shown the economics-only approach haven’t moved the polls much in Romney’s direction when it comes to Hispanic voters. And black Republican leaders told TPM Tuesday they don’t expect his NAACP speech to move the needle much among the African-American electorate, either. But Romney will make a personal appeal in 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,” he says in the remarks.