July 11th, 2012
05:19 PM ET
11 years ago

NAACP chair: 'They absolutely booed' Romney

Houston (CNN) - Mitt Romney was booed repeatedly Wednesday during his address to an NAACP convention in Houston. The 15 seconds of loud booing that interrupted one portion of Romney's speech was likely the most prolonged negative response he has faced this campaign.

As soon as the GOP contender finished his remarks, campaign surrogates offered a different perspective on the speech to reporters. Aides noted an "acceptance" of Romney's message, pointing out he was applauded more than he was booed.

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That assessment of the speech, however, differs greatly from reactions volunteered by several NAACP leaders and members.

In an interview with CNN, NAACP National Board Chairwoman Rosyln Brock immediately seized on Romney's vow to repeal what the unofficial GOP nominee called "Obamacare," the buzz-word coined by conservative critics of the president's health care law.

"That was a loaded statement and the crowd erupted with displeasure," Brock said. "They absolutely booed," she added.

The president of the Washington, D.C. branch of the civil rights group, Akosua Tyus, described the outbursts as an "uproar." Tyus defended her participation in the negative response.

"He literally came to our house and attacked the issues that are important to us on our turf," Tyus said. She too objected to Romney's use of the term, "Obamacare."

Claudia Brown, an NAACP member who is running for a seat in the Texas state legislature admitted she "booed loudly." But she added, "I was not booing him the man. Because I love all people because I'm a Christian. I was booing his agenda."

The boisterous response did not sit well with Peggy Holmes, an NAACP member who traveled to the annual conference from Akron, Ohio. She said she was disappointed with the audience reaction.

"Because I wasn't raised that way. If I invite someone to my house, I treat them like a guest. I respect them," Holmes said.

The GOP contender made several overtures that appealed to the civil rights group's more conservative, evangelical members.

Romney drew applause from the audience when he hinted at his opposition to same-sex marriage, an issue that has divided NAACP members.

"As president, I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage," Romney said.

Conservative pundits praised Romney on-line for sticking to his principles in front of what was a much more liberal audience.

Jim Geraghty of the National Review Online touted what he called a "surprisingly strong appearance."

"I think the speech was one of Romney's best of the campaign, often articulating conservative principles," Geraghty wrote.

Another noted conservative voice, CNN political contributor David Frum questioned whether Romney's performance was politically calculated.

"If I were a political cynic, I'd wonder whether the Romney campaign wanted to be booed at NAACP," Frum tweeted.

For its part, the Romney campaign dispatched a well-known, conservative African-American pundit to share her reaction with reporters.

Tara Wall, a fixture on cable news programs who now leads Romney's outreach to African American voters, seemed satisfied with the crowd's response.

"Three boos out of thunderous applause over and over again, I'll take that," Wall said.

Pressed by reporters to single out that moment of "thunderous applause," Wall corrected herself.

"Okay, applause in general. I think there was a lot more, as I've said a few times, a lot more applause than there were boos. I will take the fact that there was acceptance overall with his speech," Wall said.

While not thundering applause, there was a standing ovation at the end from roughly half of the audience according to several observers after Romney's remarks.

- CNN's Shawna Shepherd and Matt Hoye contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • NAACP • Texas
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    of course the boos will get all the press especially from those on the right, BUT Romney also was cheered on one of his education proposals and even got a standing ovation when he ending his speech. It wasn't all totally tactless as some may want to say, not like the NASCAR group booing Michelle Obama that time.

    July 11, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. Andrew

    Governor Romney was very respectful. He went to the NAACP, a far left organization, because of its history in the black community. When they booed him for giving them his point of vew, he simply smiled and went on. He was very presidential. He will be the president for ALL Americans. He wants to do everything he can to create jobs. 15% of black Americans are unemployed. And a larger % are underemployed or have given up looking for work. Obama is understandably popular with black americans, because he is the first black american to be elected president, but life for blacks under Obama is actually worse than it was under Bush.

    July 11, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  3. DorisV

    Remember this in November. Be sure you vote. Romney is a scary, rich old man. He doesn't understand the real people.

    July 11, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Republican grandma

    If he come to my house and tell me to shut down my water and electricity if he gets elected? I would be mad like crazy. He was lucky they only booed at him. Imagine if he do that in poor area of blacks or Hispanic communities. You do not come to some communities and tell them Martin LK is a joke? Or tell them that Cesar Chaves is a failure?

    Well what can I say? He is Mitt. He comes from Switzerland. He eats from gold plate and silver spoon.

    He thinks all of us his employees. The ones he can fire anytime he wants.

    July 11, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  5. Pags

    NAACP – Garbage
    Our Over-Taxing Govt – Garbage
    Voters who vote blindly for corrupt politicians because they are affiliated with the political party that they've been conditioned to favor – Garbage

    Enjoy the time we have left people, because our country is doomed. It's probably too late to save it. As if all of the scandalous behavior of our pols isn't enough, the fact that our 'leaders' are looking to turn our gun control over to the UN should outright terrify everyone and make the demise of the USA readily apparent.

    We're doomed.

    July 11, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  6. rs

    Rude of the delegates to boo, but certainly far more restrained than the stuff put forward by the rabble of the TEA Party, or Mr. Romney's drive by horn-blowing at Mr. Obama's events. When you take politics to the gutter like the GOP has, they shouldn't be surprised when they receive the same treatment, wealthy or not.

    July 11, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  7. Jane

    Mr. Romney was NOT THERE to speak to the NAACP; he was there to bolster his credentials with the racist rightwing faux "Christians" who are orchestrating his campaign – "see how I stood up to all those evil liberal racists?". Just when you didn't think he could sink any lower........

    July 11, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |


    No class. They might want to focus on the word "advancement" and not "colored."

    Versus actual members of the Republican Congress yelling out "You Lie" during a sitting Presidents speech?
    Or the things Tea Partiers have yelled out at rallys... classy.

    Lets be real here.. Romney even said he expected to be booed at the event, its for a reason, and his conscience was right.

    July 11, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. NotFooledByDistractions

    Considering the size of the crowd, the applause was merely polite and very lukewarm – but the boo's were obvious.

    I saw video of the crowd while romney was speaking – judging from the comments they were making, the audience was making, they weren't buying what romney was selling.

    July 11, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. artie woodington

    How many Blacks did Mitt Romney hire when he was topdog at Bains, or topdog at other companies? How many Blacks are in leadership positions in the Mormon Church? Give me a break. These people have no class about them. Who are these people?

    July 11, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  11. Bill

    At least Romney was there. Obama cares enough to skip the convention and send another white guy instead.

    Nobama 2012.

    July 11, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  12. Samuel Cooper

    Romney is a race baiting CREEP, and I can't wait for his 2nd, 3rd and 4th wife pops up. African Americans owe Romney nothing. He not done much for Blacks himself while he is calling the President. Oh us poor Black folk will just wait for the cult leader to take the White House with his Mormon beliefs and values and it will be all good. Yeah right, at the NAACP he a better speech and talking points would have produced different results. He disrespected the crowd and the crowd disrespected back.

    July 11, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. T'sah From Virginia

    I agree with Sniffit – Enough is enough on this story – Romney got booed and in reality, he did not care!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    July 11, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Black Independent

    I resent white people telling me and other black me that black people support Obama because he is black or black are enslaved by the Democratic party. There is a large and growing number of younger blacks that are neither Republican nor Democrat. Many Democratic policies have not worked. More and more government programs will not lead to prosperity nor will "Trickle Down" economics lead to prosperity. Many times well-meaning government programs for the poor lead to dependency on government. Many times, tax subsidies for businesses leads to dependency on government for the companies to make profits. Welfare programs is supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats call them programs for the poor and Republican type programs are tax subsidies, tax shelters and grants for businesses. Many Republicans rail at Democrats for supporting welfare programs. The biggest welfare programs is all of the subsidies, grants, contracts, cost over-runs for defense contractors. Republicans try to get money back in their districts to get contracts for defense contractors for projects that the defense department says that they do not need. How are well ever going to balance the budget with all of the defense pork barrel projects. I am and many other younger blacks do not like the Democratic party. Also, we do not like the Republican party either. Wish there was something else.

    July 11, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. scott

    OF course they boo him, he was honest and dared to talk against their leader Obama, they are worried their free government handouts will end under Romney. Besides the NAACP is racist.

    July 11, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  16. electroguy

    Racist black people.

    July 11, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. swisscottage

    As an independent I'm glad that Romney didn't stick to the safe Republican havens and ventured out to speak to a hostile group. A real president has to deal with groups that disagree with him. It'd be equally impressed if Obama spoke to the NRA (not sure if he's been invited to speak in front of that group or not).

    July 11, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't think that booing someone was a good thing. There has to be a better way to show disagreement with someone who has no clue as to what normal people really want and need.

    July 11, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  19. rudy

    without a boogey-man, the naacp would not exist, they need someone to blame for their problems, for all of their social ills, or else they would have to take responsibility

    July 11, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
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