It was a Sister Souljah moment.
Mitt Romney went to the NAACP, in what some assumed was a quixotic effort, to suggest that his policies would ultimately be better for black Americans than President Obama’s.
He was roundly booed. No surprise there; but if anyone thinks Romney was offended by his reception at the nation’s largest civil rights organization’s annual conference, he has another think coming.
The Sister Souljah moment has a formal definition in the political lexicon as “a politician's public repudiation of an extremist person or group, statement, or position perceived to have some association with the politician or the politician's party.”
In 1992, presidential contender Bill Clinton criticized hip-hop artist and political activist Sister Souljah who was quoted in a Washington Post interview as saying, "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?" The quote was part of a longer response to the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the verdict clearing police officers in the Rodney King beating.
In an appearance before the Rainbow Coalition, Clinton responded to that, and to a line in her song “The Final Solution: Slavery’s Back in Effect” ("If there are any good white people, I haven't met them"), saying, “If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black,’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.
It was the moment that voters who worried about how widely accepted Clinton was among African-Americans could see that he was willing to put them in check.
George W. Bush did it by refusing to speak before the NAACP until late in his second term.
In 2008, Obama’s moment was when he took absentee black fathers to task.
Romney’s strategy was slightly different. President Obama, citing a conflict, did not appear before the NAACP. Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to appear in his stead. So the presumptive GOP nominee went instead.
So it appears that he scores by being brave enough to show up in “enemy territory” and stand his ground on his policies, especially getting rid of “Obamacare,” he has weathered the liberal storm and shored up his bona fides among Republicans who aren’t really feeling Romney because they don’t believe he is conservative enough.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saw it coming.
“I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention,” Pelosi told Bloomberg TV.
Even Romney admitted he wasn’t surprised by the boos.
“We expected that, of course, but you know I’m going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs,” Romney told Fox News.
Later that evening at a fundraiser, Romney noted he wasn’t kowtowing to any group, a subtle reference to accusations during the GOP primary campaign that he was an “Etch-a-Sketch” candidate who adjusted his remarks depending on the group to whom he was speaking.
“I had the privilege of speaking today at the NAACP convention in Houston and I gave them the same speech I am giving you. I don't give different speeches to different audiences, alright,” Romney said at the fundraiser, according to Politico, adding “they weren’t happy” with his thoughts on health care reform.
As former President George W. Bush might say: Mission Accomplished.