Mitt Romney isn't going to win the black vote. But he's making a pitch to African-Americans at the NAACP's annual meeting, giving a major speech that's also aimed at showing independent and swing voters that he's willing to reach out to diverse audiences — and demonstrating that his campaign and the Republican Party he leads are inclusive.
Romney's advisers say he plans to focus, as he usually does, on the economy. The 14.4 percent unemployment rate among blacks is much higher than the 8.2 percent national average. He's also likely to mention his plan to increase school choice — he's called education the "civil rights issue of our era."
It's a difficult sell — 95 percent of blacks backed President Barack Obama in 2008. But no matter what Romney tells the NAACP on Wednesday, Republicans and Democrats say he's making a statement just by speaking to the nation's oldest civil rights group.
"The first thing you need to do is show up, so I ultimately think he's doing the right thing," said Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., one of two black Republicans in Congress. "What he's saying to everyone is that he's (running to become) America's president and not just those folks he thinks he can get votes from right now. I think that's a very important statement."
"You've got to get credit for showing up — for being willing to go — no question," said Karen Finney, a Democratic consultant who worked in the Clinton White House. "It's more about your actions than it is about what you say."
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