Romney NAACP Speech: Crossed Line or ‘Positive Reception’?

Jul 11, 2012 1:45pm
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Evan Vucci/AP Photo

HOUSTON–Mitt Romney’s address to the NAACP clearly offended some in the audience who booed and said he “crossed the line” when he vowed to repeal Obamacare and lobbed insults at the president.  But the Romney campaign’s spinmasters saw  it differently, maintaining that the candidate received a “positive reception.”

That reception today included three consecutive boos–including a round of jeers that lasted 14 seconds in response to his vow to end Obamacare.  But he did receive a standing ovation at the end and a few people in the ballroom told ABC News that the GOP candidate did make some legitimate points.

“When he went too far, they went too far,” said Patricia Kane, a NAACP member from Los Angeles, referring to Romney’s line in which he called Obamacare a ‘non-essential expensive program” he would eliminate if elected. “He crossed the line so they responded.”

Kane, along with several other members of the audience, added that Romney’s remark that the president “has not” and “will not” and “cannot” do the things he promised to do when in office went “a little bit too far.”

“I don’t know that if Obama would go that far in an audience that is predominately supporting Mitt Romney,” said Kane.

But the Romney campaign, deploying two senior policy advisers to talk to the press following Romney’s speech, said they were “pleasantly surprised by the positive reception,” insisting that there were more applause breaks than there were boos. Several of his talking points did garner applause – albeit tepid – from the crowd.

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com

“I think actually there was a lot more applause, he had a standing ovation at the end, there was a lot more applause than disagreement,” said Romney policy advisor Tara Wall. “Obviously there’s going to be some disagreement we understand folks aren’t going to agree with us 100 percent. But at the end of the day Gov. Romney’s message was bold, he said things that needed to be said he’s said what he’s always said about ending Obamacare and about bringing this economy back.”

Romney was booed a second time when he suggested the President had not fulfilled his promises while in office, and a third time when he said he’s the man who “will make things better in the African American community.”

Homer Cobb, a voter from Indiana, said that while he did not boo Romney he understood why those around him did.

“He’s never been to a hospital where the first thing that they ask if do you have insurance,” said Cobb of Romney. “He’s never had to meet that.”

Others in the crowd said they found the booing disrespectful, and one independent female voter who asked that her name not be used said that she left the speech more inclined to vote for Romney, adding that she was “surprised” at the negative reaction Romney received.

When pressed about those in the audience who said Romney crossed the line in his speech, Romney advisor Wall responded, “I think again you may have been sitting in a different section than I was sitting in I heard overall general applause for a number of themes that this governor communicated.

“He wants to be president of all Americans and to be president of all Americans you have to say some tough things sometimes,” said Wall. “I’ll take three boos out of thunderous applause over and over again, I’ll take that.”

Challenged by a reporter who asked if she really heard “thunderous” applause from the crowd– who were far more reserved than the groups Romney traditionally addresses–Wall responded, “OK, applause.”

“In general, I think there was a lot more applause than there were boos.”

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