Mitt Romney gave a speech to the NAACP today, and it didn’t go well. He was interrupted by periodic booing, got poor reviews from the audience afterward, and was lambasted by NAACP leaders after he had left. This was pretty predictable, so why did Romney bother? I think Jamelle Bouie has it about right:
The point of this address to the NAACP was to send a signal to right-leaning, suburban white voters—that Mitt Romney is tolerant, and won’t represent the bigots in his party. But there’s a sense in which Romney had it both ways: Not only did he reassure hesitant whites, but by pledging to repeal Obamacare—and being booed by the audience—he likely increased his standing with those who do resent African Americans. By going to an audience of black professionals and sticking with his stump speech, there’s a sense in which Romney might receive credit for refusing to “pander.”
It’s a pretty easy win for Romney. He gets points for not being afraid to venture into hostile territory, and then gets more points for not tailoring his message to win votes. He had no real chance of winning any of these votes in the first place, which means that sticking with his standard stump speech was something less than a profile in courage, but he probably earns some points anyway.