SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — Mitt Romney pledged to be a President for all Americans during his speech to the NAACP national convention Wednesday. But his remarks were met with both cheers and jeers.
Reverend Talbert Swan is the President of the Springfield branch of the NAACP. He spoke to 22News by phone from Texas, where he listened to the former Massachusetts governor's speech in person.
First, Swan gave Mitt Romney credit simply for showing up to the NAACP national convention.
"There are many other Republican Presidential candidates in the past who have avoided the NAACP," he said. "There was even one Republican President in particular who avoided the NAACP for eight entire years."
Romney asked for a fair shot at the African American vote Wednesday, declaring "if you want a President who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him."
But on several occasions, Romney heard the crowd's disapproval, particularly after saying he would "eliminate expensive non-essential program[s].... and that includes Obamacare."
Swan explained why the crowd loudly booed the Republican after that comment. "Using the term Obamacare, that was somewhat disrespectful. That is a Republican term placed on the Affordable Care Act.... talking about repealing 'Obamacare' when 'Romneycare' in Massachusetts is the father to Obamacare."
Reverend Swan told 22News he also took issue with Romney's claims of narrowing the achievement gap in education during his term as Governor, saying Romney was "rewriting history." He also disagreed with Romney's claims that his gubernatorial policies "benefitted the African American community."
Still, as Romney left the stage, at least half the room gave him a standing ovation.
Overall, Swan said he believes Romney is "out of touch with the concerns of communities of color." But he admitted the Republican hopeful "did make some good points" during his speech, particularly with regards to job creation.
Swan hopes members of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights group will stay engaged in the political process.
"We have so many who sacrificed, who suffered, bled and died for us to gain the right to vote. So whether they vote Democrat, Republican or otherwise, they should exercise the right to vote."
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