By Daniel Rigney
Vice President Joe Biden gave a rousing speech today at the last plenary session of the NAACP convention in Houston, hitting perfect Democratic notes on economy, education, health care and civil rights. The audience was with him.
Biden started to wind down his speech with “Let me close, my friends, by saying....” The crowd booed.
Credit political correspondent Michael Shure of Current TV for putting a comic frame around this political moment by making a connection between the real boos Romney got here yesterday and the love boos Biden got today. Shure wonders whether today's boos might signal the start of a Biden2016 campaign.
Biden wasn’t actually booed. (I was in the crowd, and I heard it more as a “Nooooooo!”) The folks were asking him to keep on. They wanted more. That’s the kind of booing a political figure loves to hear.
I was also here yesterday when presidential candidate Mitt Romney was booed, but that was an entirely different kind of boo. Romney had said he would "eliminate every nonessential, expensive program I can find, including Obamacare." At this, many in the crowd expressed displeasure.
There’s no way Romney didn’t know that by disparaging the affordable health care law in this forum, and by choosing to call the Affordable Care Act “Obamacare,” a spinword promoted by the right, he would elicit jeers from the audience.
He got what he came for – 14 seconds worth. For a moment it was as uncivil as some Tea Party rallies have been, but the crowd soon quieted down and eventually gave Romney a half-standing ovation, which has gone largely unreported.
I suspect Romney was playing to one camera in particular at that boo moment, the camera from Fox News. This clip will be replayed strategically between now and November to show that Romney is bold, forthright, and (as former NAACP president Julian Bond remarked wryly), “not afraid to talk to the Negroes” and “stand up to them.”
This message is likely to play well in the pastel base, especially here in the South, and among right-leaning independent voters.
A Romney adviser said afterward that the candidate had expected the reaction. “Planned” or "counted on" might be more like it. Romney hit the “boo” button by denigrating “Obamacare.” I think he knew what reaction he was going to get, and he got it. Watch for that clip again in the fall. And again.
[For more on the postulate that Romney was boo baiting, see this.]
The day after the NAACP event, speaking at a GOP wealth-network fundraiser in Montana en route to a similar function in Wyoming to be hosted by Dick Cheney, Romney commented that “if they want more stuff from the government, tell them to go vote for the other guy-- more free stuff .”
Who exactly is the “they” in that sentence, Mitt? And who are the implied “we”? And exactly what "stuff" are you talking about? Health stuff? Education stuff? Retirement stuff?
You’re not pitting people against each other, are you, Mitt? Wouldn’t that be – I don’t know – some sort of class warfare from above? You're way too classy a guy for that.
Say hi to Cheney and friends. And good luck with that dressage thing at the London Olympics.
This is Danagram, mild-mannered reporter on the daily planet, coming to you almost live from the scene in Houston, July 12, 2012.