Appearing before the annual convention of the NAACP - a group whose members are among Obama's strongest supporters - Romney gave what amounted to his standard campaign pitch, emphasizing his ability to create jobs.
Although several of his lines were greeted with applause, Romney drew waves of boos when he blasted Obama's record on jobs and the healthcare overhaul that was backed by the president and recently upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him," Romney told the crowd in a reference to the high unemployment among blacks - 14.4 percent, compared with the national average of 8.2 percent.
The comment prompted a smattering of boos.
"Take a look," he said. "No!" a woman shouted.
Romney's vow to repeal and replace the healthcare law known as "Obamacare" did not go over much better. The law - which among other things requires most Americans to buy insurance and helps the elderly save on prescription drugs - has broad support among African-Americans, according to polls.
"I'm going to eliminate every expensive, non-essential program. That includes Obamacare," Romney told the crowd of hundreds in a half-filled ballroom. Sustained boos of more than 10 seconds broke out, and Romney seemed unsettled by the reaction.
Romney drew more boos when he said Obama had promised to create more jobs, but "he will not, he cannot, and his record of the last four years proves it."
A SIGNAL TO CONSERVATIVES?
Romney received a standing ovation from many in the ballroom at the end of his talk. But it seemed to be more in appreciation of Romney's appearance than what he said.
The former Massachusetts governor's team knew heading into the speech that Romney would be presenting his case to people whose votes he has little chance of winning on November 6. Obama, the nation's first black president, is favored by about 90 percent of African-Americans in opinion polls. Vice President Joe Biden addresses the group on Thursday.
But Romney said on Wednesday he would seek the support of all Americans, and his decision to speak before the NAACP echoed that of Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008.
Romney's shots at Obama, however, left some audience members and political analysts wondering about the Republican's goal on Wednesday. Was it to court black voters - or to show Romney's mostly white, conservative base that he could take his message to the heart of the opposition?
It was the second time in less than a month that a Romney speech fell flat before an audience of ethnic minority activists who are firmly in the Obama camp. On June 21, his speech before a Hispanic group in Florida drew tepid applause and some boos.
Although Romney might have won admiration from conservatives and some black voters for his speech on Wednesday, the images of him being booed so lustily by the NAACP in Houston was not good for his campaign, said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Jillson said Romney's criticism of Obama and the healthcare law before black voters risked turning off independent voters who could decide the election.
"It's just a signal that Romney is tethered too far to the right when he goes in and gets booed by the NAACP," Jillson said.
"There is a moderate, suburban independent vote out there that has not made up its mind yet, and those folks probably don't want to see the pictures that will be on the evening news."
'WE DON'T COUNT ANYBODY OUT'
In presidential politics, delivering what could be an unpopular message to an audience is something of an art, and often is designed to resonate with a broader audience.
Romney's NAACP speech drew some comparisons to an address by former President Bill Clinton in 1992, when he confronted a meeting of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition by condemning violent, anti-white comments that had been made by Sister Souljah, a hip-hop artist and political activist.
Clinton's remarks calling Sister Souljah racially divisive seemed aimed at centrist - and white - voters as much as the black community. On Wednesday, some analysts saw Romney's comments as being aimed as much at conservative whites as Romney's mostly black audience.
During his speech, Romney said his successful race to win the governorship in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts showed he was willing to represent all Americans, regardless of color.
"We don't count anybody out, and we sure don't make a habit of presuming anyone's support," he said.
Romney, who is in a tight race with Obama, emphasized his belief that the free-market system would create jobs in ways government programs had not.
Romney said after the speech that he had foreseen the crowd's negative reaction.
"I think we expected that. I am going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs," he told Fox News in an interview to be broadcast on Wednesday night.
An outside adviser to Romney said the candidate's intent was to reinforce his economic message, which is "hard to say" without mentioning Obama.
The adviser, who did not want to be named, said Romney appeared at the NAACP event because "it's important to do if you are going to signal that you're going to be president of all the people."
Joe Hardy, of Jefferson City, Missouri, was among those in the crowd on Wednesday. He voted for Obama in 2008, but said he was undecided about the upcoming election. He said he respected Romney for "not trying to cater his message to his audience.
"He's a man of courage," Hardy said.
The Romney campaign hopes his focus on jobs and the economy will break through to some blacks.
Dominique Penny, 18, a biology student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, said she would vote for Obama but listened to Romney with an open mind and that his plan for creating 1 million U.S. jobs sounded good.
"He did make some good points," she said, "but I'm sticking with my first choice."
Making sense of the mid-term election shellacking
“The rent is too dawn high,” New York gubernatorial candidate Mr. Jimmy McMillan said but in this case “The unemployment is too dawn high” that’s what brought about Republican super victory. The American people believed that the country is moving in the wrong direction due to the state of the economy – “The economy stupid” and they wanted a change. In spite of the effort President Obama was making to stop the economy from sliding into depression or double-dip recession; all American people wanted to see is result. The official employment is 9.6% but the real unemployment at the heartland is over 15%. American people opt for a change because they are losing their jobs in droves, burden with students’ loans, massive debts, and foreclosures that are taking their bits.
No politician or party can survive this frustration from the voters. American people are looking for ways to support the president but first and foremost, they want to feed their families, go to work and pay their bills. The American people want to send the message to the ruling party that they are sick and tired of the state of the affairs. Without what they have for the president, American people would have not retained Democrats as majority in the senate. American people wanted a divided government and this time they got it.
The economy stupid!!
But the issue of economy is too complex – deficits/debts, inflation, brewing currency war and unemployment are major problems of the capitalistic globalization. In the globalized economy, nations are interdependent of each other. There is a global recession and depressed economy, many countries are experiencing unemployment and America is no exception. The American economy is growing at a slow rate, quite anemic to make impact on the 9.6% unemployment. Never the less, the GDP is growing, the economic growth rate at third quarter was 2% compared to the second quarter of 1.7%. Tell that to a couple in Boston who is losing their house, or to a father who lost his factory job in Ohio. Nobody wants to hear about the global recession and jobless growth, American people want to go to work, vacation, eat out and go to movies. And when that is not possible the ruling party and sitting president will feel their wrath at polling stations. Therefore the loss of 60 House seats and 6 senate seats by the Democratic Party are inevitable because it comes with the season.
Democrats squandered their political capital and made some mistakes. They spend too much time discussing and debating Health care reform. The bickering and deal making among them left a bad taste in the mouth of American people. And the perception is that Republicans were shunned and President Obama pledge of working together was relegated to insignificance. While the Democrats were busying talking to each other, they forget to talk to American people and bring them on board. The Republicans did a good job in communicating to the voters that Democrats have no interest of working with American people and Republicans. The Republicans convinced the American people to come to their side and to send a message to the White House and the Democrats as they did on the Election Day.
American deficits and debts are not making things easy for the economy to revamp and come back. The possibility of currency war with China appears probable because Chinese yuan is said to be artificially kept low and this increases American deficits. Beyond that, President Obama did try to stimulate the economy but with the dire economic straits everything becomes almost improbable but he did succeed in growing the GDP once again. Though, the growth in the economy and GDP comes without much dent on the job creation. The American people are not ready for 101 economics class in globalized economy; they want jobs and good things of life.
Time to roll up sleeves and work together
This is not the time for Right-winger talk shows to gloat and float about the victory; maybe their perception is that American people are moving toward the extreme right. But far from the truth American people just want a change for better and if the Republicans party fails to deliver, next time around they will jump to a perceived greener pasture. The American people are sending a message to the powers to be and their message should be understood and interpreted correctly. The economic frustration is real and time will not be wasted on ideological tantrum. But a time for the both parties to come together, make the necessary compromise and move this economy forward.
President Obama was elected to fix the economy and he spoke eloquently during the campaign of bringing people together and working together. He has the human skill of doing that for he is a considerate and compassionate president. The God-given skill of his communication ability should be utilize to summon the American people to be ready to confront the deficit, debt and other troubling aspects of the economy. The Republicans and Democrats must be willing to work together and show their leadership qualities by working with the president at this troubling time of high unemployment and great recession. This is not the time to fight for ideological supremacy but a time to listen to the American people and do the job of the people.
As the president continues with his commitment to the American people, he will be rewarded with the re-election, if the economy turns around. When he listens to the people, continue to fight to bring down unemployment, the American people will recognize that and they will mightily return him comes 2012.