Great cheers for Biden on heels of jeers for Romney
Obama’s ‘attack dog’ roused the civil rights group’s convention more than he could have ever dared to
THE WHITE House said President Barack Obama was unable to address the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) because of a “scheduling conflict”. So he dispatched vice-president Joe Biden to Houston yesterday instead.
“The NAACP didn’t get the top dog,” the Republican political strategist Ana Navarro commented. “They got the attack dog.”
Biden’s speech to the nation’s oldest civil rights group was more chummy-familiar with the African-American community, and more aggressive towards Republicans, than anything Obama would have dared. “It’s good to be home. It’s good to be back. I’m a lifetime member of the NAACP . . . This is preachin’ to the choir,” he said.
Greeting an old friend in the audience, the vice-president adopted the cadence of African- American speech: “Hey, Mouse! How ya doin’, man?” Biden addressed the group 24 hours after Mitt Romney received the most hostile reaction from any audience in the campaign. Romney was jeered. Biden was cheered.
The vice-president said he “watched [Mr Obama] make some of the toughest decisions since FDR” – the bailout of the automobile industry, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which will provide healthcare insurance “for eight million black Americans who would never have had it”.
He said: “Obstruction was [the Republicans’] plan from the outset . . . They have never let up. But neither has my guy. Neither has Barack Obama.”
Biden accused Romney of putting education “on the back burner”. He said “his social policy is a throwback to the 1950s” and his “vision of foreign policy is mired in the Cold War”. Romney wanted to give $530 billion (€434 billion) in tax cuts to the 120,000 richest families. “If he succeeds, 2.2 million African- American families will see their taxes go up.”
On the opening day of the convention, NAACP chairman Ben Jealous spoke of voter identification laws passed in nearly a dozen states with Republican-controlled legislatures. “In the past year, more states have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than at any time since the rise of Jim Crow,” he said, referring to the apartheid-style laws in southern states between 1876 and 1965.
“This organisation at its core is about the franchise, about the right to vote,” Biden added yesterday. “Because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things . . . Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again? Close your eyes and imagine what the Romney justice department would look like.”
Obama won 95 per cent of the black vote in 2008, and still enjoys an 87 per cent approval rating in the African-American community, compared to 45 per cent in the nation at large, so it’s unlikely Romney can win a significant number of black votes.