- (Photo: REUTERS/Richard Carson)
Mitt Romney stood before leaders and activists at the NAACP convention in Houston, Texas, this morning and attempted to strike an inclusive tone by stating why a Republican governor should be their choice in 2012. But not everyone in the crowd was pleased with Romney's agenda.
"With 90 percent of African Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African-American community, and to address the NAACP," Romney asked those gathered.
Romney also used his time behind the podium to lay the groundwork for a five-point plan to help middle-class voters, especially black voters, once again find a way to achieve the American dream.
The plan included opening up energy sources by expanding the Keystone pipeline, cutting the growth of government by eliminating "non-essential" services such as Obamacare, expanding trade by opening up new markets, nurturing and developing skilled workers and restoring economic freedom by encouraging entrepreneurship.
"The president will say he will do those things, but he will not, he cannot, and his record of the last four years proves it," said Romney. "If I am president, job one for me will be creating jobs. I have no hidden agenda. If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him."
However, some in the crowd responded to Romney's reference to repealing Obamacare with boos and jeers, with others saying they wanted to give the president's signature health care an opportunity to be implemented.
"He must not know how much support there is in the African-American community for health care, and he comes in and calls it Obamacare," James Pinkett told The Associated Press. "We just think it should be given a chance to work."
Even Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed criticized Romney for referencing Obamacare and patted the crowd on the back for their unfriendly response.
"I believe he included that part (Obamacare) of the speech intentionally," Reed told ABC News. "And I think the audience responded appropriately."
But Romney did not seem to be fazed by some of the audience members' reactions, saying that he expected to receive such treatment even before he took the stage.
"I think we expected that," Romney told Neil Cavuto on Fox News after the speech. "I am going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs, and if jobs is the priority, we are going to have to replace it with something that actually holds down health care costs."
The former Massachusetts governor took advantage of the invitation to address the attacks levied at him by the Obama campaign for his wealth and success while in the private sector.
New television ads now running in key swing states such as Florida and Ohio say electing Romney will send jobs overseas and reward only the most affluent in America with tax cuts and special incentives.
Not true, said Romney. "The opposition charges that I and people in my party are running for office to help the rich. Nonsense. The rich will do just fine whether I am elected or not. The president wants to make this a campaign about blaming the rich. I want to make this a campaign about helping the middle class."
"I am running for president because I know that my policies and vision will help hundreds of millions of middle class Americans of all races, will lift people from poverty, and will help prevent people from becoming poor. My campaign is about helping the people who need help. The course the president has set has not done that – and will not do that. My course will."
In a statement released by the NAACP at the conclusion of Romney's remarks, the group's chairman, Roslyn M. Brock, also took aim at the candidate's statements.
"This morning Governor Romney laid out his policy agenda for this nation. Unfortunately, much of his agenda is at odds with what the NAACP stands for – whether the issue is equal access to affordable health care, reforming our education system or the path forward on marriage equality, said Brock. "We appreciate that he was courageous and took the opportunity to speak with us directly."
Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to address the convention on Thursday. However, the Coalition of African-American Pastors has also scheduled a press conference to protest President Obama's refusal to meet with the group over his support of same-sex marriage.
President Obama had declined the group's invitation to speak.