Romney Tells NAACP Blacks Fare Worse in Obama Economy

By Fred Lucas | July 11, 2012 | 1:26pm EDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures during remarks to volunteers working at the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado to distribute food to those affected by the wild fire at the on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

( – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney affirmed his support only for traditional marriage speaking to the NAACP, less than two months after the organization announced its support for same-sex unions.

“Here at the NAACP you understand the deep and lasting difference that family makes,” Romney said, adding: “Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country. As president I will promote strong families, and I will defend traditional marriage.”

In May, the NAACP’s board of directors approved a resolution supporting same-sex marriage.

Romney also said during the speech, “I hope to represent all Americans of every race, creed and sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest, to everyone in between.”

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, received tepid applause for the assertion when speaking to the 103rd NAACP Annual Convention in Houston on Wednesday.

Romney delivered the remarks to the nation’s oldest black civil rights organization in a year when he is challenging President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president. He was booed on a few occasions during the speech. Acknowledging he was speaking to a predominantly liberal group, Romney joked about speaking before Vice President Joe Biden, who will address the group on Thursday.

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“I appreciate the chance to speak first, even before Vice President Biden. Vice President Biden will get his chance tomorrow,” Romney said. “I just hope the Obama campaign doesn’t think you’re playing favorites.”

He talked about how his father, Gov. George Romney of Michigan, championed civil rights laws and marched for civil rights in Detroit. He further sought to make a case as to why he would be a better choice for African-American voters for president than Obama.

“If someone had told us in the 1950s and the 1960s that a black citizen would serve as the 44th president of the United States, we would have been proud, and many would have been surprised,” Romney said. “Picturing that day, we might have assumed that the American presidency would be the very last door of opportunity to be opened. Before that came to pass, every other barrier on the path to equal opportunity would surely have had to come down. Of course, it hasn’t happened quite that way. Many barriers remain.”

Romney said the tough economy has hit African-Americans particularly hard.

“If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African-Americans in almost every way,” Romney said.

“The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average incomes, median family wealth, are all worse in the black community. In June, when the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African-Americans actually went up from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent. Americans of every background are asking when this economy will finally recover. And you in particular are entitled to an answer,” he said.

Romney said that if elected president, he and the NAACP would not always agree, but he said he would be willing to listen, just as they were willing to listen to his remarks.

Sticking with his own economic agenda earned him polite applause from the audience. It was only when Romney criticized Obama or an Obama agenda item that the crowd booed.

“Do these five things: Open up energy, expand trade, cut the growth of government, focus on better educating tomorrow’s workers today, and restore economic freedom, and jobs will come back to America, and wages will rise again. We have got to do it,” he said to applause.

“I know the president will say he is going to do those things, but he has not. He will not. He cannot, and his last four years in the White House prove it definitively,” Romney said, followed by boos from the crowd.

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