Did Romney Fumble Black Voter Outreach?
Romney Calls Education Gap ‘Civil Rights Issue of our Time’
Mitt Romney suggested class size has little bearing on educational outcomes at a West Philadelphia charter school Thursday, The Philadelphia Enquirer reported. “Calling the gap in education performance between black and white students ‘the civil rights issue of our time,’ Romney said quality teaching and parental involvement were the keys to classroom success. He made his comments during a roundtable discussion in the library at Universal Bluford Charter School, an elementary school named for astronaut Guion Bluford and one of five schools run by a nonprofit founded by music mogul Kenny Gamble,” The Enquirer reported. Romeny cited analysis that was done of 351 Massachusetts schools when he was governor to back up his claim, as well as a study by McKinsey Global Institute, but both educators in the room and experts contacted by the paper disagreed, the article said.
Hecklers, Mayor Taunt Romney
Outside the school, the candidate was met by hecklers, The Washington Post reported. “Seeking to broaden his appeal heading into the general election, Romney was venturing for his first time in this campaign into an impoverished black neighborhood … But here in the streets of West Philadelphia, the emotion surrounding his contest with the nation’s first black president was raw, as dozens of neighborhood residents shouted, ‘Get out, Romney, get out!’” the article said.
Some protesters were organized by the Obama campaign, according to The Post. Whether Democractic mayor Michael Nutter was among them is anyone’s guess, but Nutter told MSNBC host Martin Bashir, “If you want to come to Philadelphia to talk about education, or if you want to talk about issues in a presidential campaign, then your record is going to be examined.” Nutter also said, “I’m not going to let him or his folks come into our town and dupe people into thinking that he actually knows something about education.”
Romney Promises Federal Funds to Disadvantaged Students
Romney’s visit to the school “gave him the opportunity to see firsthand the type of urban charter school he advocated for” in speech delivered to a Latino business group Wednesay in Washington D.C., Annenberg Digital News reported. “Romney promised that if elected, he would tie federal education funds directly to low-income and special needs students to allow them to attend ‘any public or charter school, or…private school, where permitted'” in that speech, the article said. “The reaction to Romney’s visit to this mostly African-American community” in Philadephia “should not be too surprising,” however, the article said, because, according to an Associated Press GfK poll conducted this month, “90 percent of blacks would vote for Obama in November and just 5 percent would support Romney” and “just 3 percent of blacks said Romney ‘understands the problems of people like you’ better than Obama does.”
Update: The Romney campaign has hired Tara Wall, a former Bush administration official as a senior Romney communications adviser to handle outreach to African Americans, The Washington Post reported. Wall previously worked as a television journalist in Detroit, as a Republican National Committee adviser, a columnist and editor for the Washington Times, and as a CNN contributor, according to the Grio. She told the Grio that “her role would not be just outreach to blacks, but women and other groups, as well as shaping Romney’s overall communications strategy.”
What do you think?
Does Mitt Romney understand the problems of Black urban voters or was it a political misstep for him to highlight an apparent disconnect?