Lurking in the background of Romney's speech was a Los Angeles Times story comparing Romney's bare record on civil rights with that of his father, George, who ran for president in 1968 and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with rights leaders in that decade. The paper noted that Romney has campaigned in front of mostly white crowds, that he rarely mentions his father's civil rights record, and that he declined to be interviewed about the issue.
"He has no record on civil rights," Leonard Alkins, a former president of the NAACP's Boston chapter who was on a panel advising Romney in Massachusetts, told The Times.
Black voters appear to have made up their mind about the presidential election, and Romney trails about as much as he can. Combining the last two ABC News polls to account for an adequate sample size of voters, blacks who are registered to vote prefer Obama over Romney by a staggering 96 percent to 3 percent.
Romney came to the NAACP with his own facts too, though. Like this one: "In June, while 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."
And this one: "Today, black children are 17 percent of students nationwide – but they are 42 percent of the students in our worst-performing schools."
Romney argued that as president he'd work with Democrats because when he was the governor of Massachusetts, he had to talk to Democrats just to get elected. "We don't count anybody out, and we sure don't make a habit of presuming anyone's support," he said.
His bottom-line pitch was that his "policies and vision will help hundreds of millions of middle-class Americans of all races, will lift people from poverty, and will help prevent people from becoming poor."
While he spoke kindly of Obama on a personal level, he was forceful in differentiating himself on policy.
"When President Obama called to congratulate me on becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, he said that he, quote, 'looked forward to an important and healthy debate about America's future,' " Romney said. "To date, I'm afraid that his campaign has taken a different course than that."
The Obama campaign was predictably unimpressed.
In a statement, Obama spokeswoman Clo Ewing said Romney "refused to use the opportunity today to finally lay out a plan for improving health care or education in this country."
"African Americans can't afford Romney economics," she said.