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July 12, 2012

Facing an Unfriendly Crowd Vs. Creating One: Romney at the NAACP


No matter how much anybody (or any one image) ascribes acrimony to that NAACP audience yesterday, most accounts testify to the politeness and willingness to listen that Romney was afforded up front — not to mention, the courtesy bestowed upon conclusion.

But though he paid respect to black civil rights, Romney made no attempt to find common ground, sticking instead to his conservative-friendly stump speech knowing his blanket attack on government programs and, particularly, his negation of the health care law (yes, it’s law) would be sure to antagonize.

The two image sequence below from the Houston Chronicle gives perhaps the best rendition of Romney’s effect on the audience in that city yesterday, polite deference turning — with the woman in the background picking up Romney’s drift much quicker — to sting.


Here, according to the caption:

Debra Edwards reacts as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers remarks at the 103rd NAACP National Convention.

And here, Karolyn Thompson reacts as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers remarks at the 103rd NAACP National Convention.


A bit more complex and telling is this Getty image, giving us the chance to see these two women — otherwise completely attentive,  in the shift, as well — registering a mixture of surprise, disbelief and dismay.


And if this picture has been circulating as an example of a hostile crowd, these people didn’t get here on a dime. It’s worth noting, as well, that these expressions are more characteristic of defensiveness, extreme awkwardness and alienation, as opposed to vitriol.


This Evan Vucci photo published by the NYT is also interesting. Of course, it makes it seem like audience members are forced to hide their eyes from the affront, or playing with their cell phones to tune Romney out. But it’s more just the practical response as he goes on and on while leaving them out.

Romney NAACP

And in the end, in spite of the monologue as opposed to dialogue, and the arrogance to boot, the audience, upon conclusion, still mustered a respectful applause.


(photo 1, 4, 7 & 8: Eric Kayne/Getty Images. photo 2 & 3: Michael Paulsen / Houston Chronicle.  photos 5 & 6: Evan Vucci/AP.)

  • Steve Laudig

    Behavior is truth, as we can believe nothing Romney says, so why did he go? Not to discuss common ground but to torch bridges and poison wells in a way that Romney’s white identity base feels more secure. Now the Klan-voter can say to him/herself “He sure told the N*s off.”

  • black_dog_barking

    Strange thing from Willard: a moment of truth. You can be sure that a Romney presidency would be aggressively indifferent to the basics needs and wants of this constituency. At last, words from the Mittster that normal folk can bank on.

  • TopCathy

    The black audience members exhibit far better manners than Romney does.

  • TopCathy

    I can’t stay away from these pictures.

    What I see in those faces is surprise, followed by disappointment, followed by discouragement, followed by resignation. They’ve heard this shit waaaay too many times before; as Romney’s intention sinks in, a deeply-rooted instinct takes over this audience: hide the emotion, pretend to be polite, walk away.

  • Jonathan

    Sorry to track off from focusing on the images, but damn. It’s 2012, and here we are, in deep trouble on environmental and economic fronts, once again faced with a guy like this.

    My heart just sinks.

  • marc sobel

    It was a setup to strengthen him with his white racist base.  The Maddow video is great.

    • BooksAlive

       Especially now that we know that Mitt flew in some black Republicans so that he could claim that “black leaders” were in agreement with him. He also invited Florida’s Lt. Gov. to attend; per The Ed Show interview with Hilary Shelton of the NAACP.

      (First 2:20 minutes of a 6+ minute segment)

  • marc sobel
  • BamaGuy1024

    Another Romney missed opportunity… there was so much he could have said to bring us together. His speech was just one big FAIL.  Was anyone else aware of the TONE of his voice which seemed to me to go up and take on a defensive arrogant flavor?

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