by Raynard Jackson
When Mitt Romney addressed the NAACP during their national convention, I thought his speech was horrible and quite a waste of time because he said nothing that would be of any interest to the black community.
Most people, of all political stripes, thought my analysis was right on the mark. But not those in the Romney campaign. They would have been upset if anyone had been as critical of the candidate, but I think they were especially perturbed that this unflattering portrait was being painted by a longtime black Republican.
It got under their skin so much that one of Romney's senior communications advisers, a black female I am acquainted with, attempted to discredit my analysis in a series of private emails to me.
In her email, she claimed that, "some of his (Romney's) most senior policy and communications people are black." I asked her to name them, but she never did. I will let you draw your own conclusion. She even thought it would be good for us to sit down and talk about the campaign, so I accepted her offer, but she still hasn't gotten back to me with a date.
The campaign made a clumsy attempt to reach black voters by releasing a ridiculous video titled, "We Need Mitt Romney." It was sent out by Romney aide, Joshua Baca, National Coalitions director for the campaign. The video was poorly written and poorly produced. The video featured a series of blacks who stated, "We need Romney."
They never explicitly defined "we" but we got the message – it was clearly meant to impress black voters. Still, they never made the case for why a vote for Romney would benefit the black community. This was a mindless, ineffective video. The people speaking were never identified. The Romney camp just grabbed some no-name people and put them in front of the camera. It's embarrassing.
Even the names of supposedly "most senior policy and communications" blacks on the Romney campaign staff are nowhere to be found on Romney's campaign website. There is a full section targeting the Hispanic vote, even a section in Spanish. Yet, nothing there's targeting the black community. That speaks louder than anything campaign flunkies can say.
This is what happens when you have no capable blacks around to advise you and work on a campaign. If a non-black such as Baca is in charge of coalitions, then why has he not reached out to experienced black operatives such as Shannon Reeves, Allegra McCullough, David Byrd, Aaron Manaigo, Francis Johnson, Ada Fisher or James House?
The few blacks Romney may have around him are all functional people and, by definition, they follow orders – they don't give orders. That is what I mean when I talk about being in a position of power: Can they authorize an expenditure of money? Can they get an event on Romney's schedule? Or, can they get a private meeting with Romney?
I would much rather the Romney campaign simply tell the black community straight-up that they have no interest in our vote..
I find this senior adviser's response to my column illustrative of everything that's wrong with the Romney campaign. They are totally incapable of giving direct answers to the most basic of questions. Who are the blacks that are supposedly on the campaign? Why are there no blacks on the campaign website? Is Romney ever going to meet and speak with black Republicans?
Contrast failure to reach out to blacks with his courting of conservatives, which culminated in his decision to pick Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Some political strategists, realizing the presidential race will turn on which candidate can best attract independents, had urged Romney to select someone who could appeal to that segment of the electorate. But Rush Limbaugh, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal all wanted Ryan. And that's who they got because Romney did not want to offend any group he felt that was important to him.
It is clear that blacks simply are not important to the Republican standard-bearer. When it comes to blacks, when all is said and done, there is nothing said and nothing done.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached via www.raynardjackson.com.)