Al Sharpton argued on PoliticsNation today that Mitt Romney's terrible reception at the NAACP convention was because he decided to use "the audience as a backboard to score with the right-wing," rather than appealing to African-Americans in good faith. And separately, the president of the NAACP agreed.
Romney was lengthily booed at the convention this morning after he promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would leave 7 million African-Americans without health care.
Sharpton said today that he had initially thought Romney's appearance was "a step in the right direction." But, he continued...
...when he went today and purposely used Obamacare, which he knows is offensive, he knows is a red flag, when he goes in representing voter ID, which he knows disenfranchises people, I was clear that he was using the audience as a backboard to score with the right-wing, rather than try a three-pointer to move the country toward trying to come together.
Sharpton noted that Romney said after the speech that he expected to be booed. "So if you went in expecting to be booed, why would you then antagonize that crowd, unless you were tying to make sure that that was the case?" Sharpton asked.
MSNBC political analyst Karen Finney agreed: "The goal here, the audience here, was Texas, was donors, was independent voters. It was not about the people in the room."
Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, agreed that Romney wasn't speaking to the people in the room during his speech, saying on Hardball that "he had a choice. He could come to talk to people in the room and the communities that they represent, or he could come there and try to send a signal somewhere else."
Jealous added that by specifically using the phrase "repeal Obamacare," not repeal the Affordable Care Act, Romney made "clear that he was sending a signal somewhere else."
Steve Benen made the same point earlier today, arguing that Romney had nothing to lose by giving this speech, and the booing will help him drum up the base going forward. "Indeed, if I had to guess, I'd say Romney will now position himself as something of a victim -- he appeared in good faith, the argument goes, but that mean ol' NAACP audience booed him for standing by his beliefs," Benen wrote.