Houston: Republican candidate Mitt Romney made a major pitch to black voters on Wednesday with a heavy emphasis on the economy, but he was booed when he criticized President Barack Obama and promised to get rid of the administration's health care overhaul.
Obama won 95 per cent of the black vote in 2008 on the way to becoming the first African-American US president and expects high support again in the November election. While his attempt to give more Americans health care coverage remains unpopular, it is his signature domestic achievement.
Republicans and Democrats said Romney was making a statement just by speaking to the annual meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the oldest US civil rights group
Romney received applause several times, but murmurs turned into jeers when he accused Obama of failing to spark a more robust economic recovery.
"I know the president has said he will do those things. But he has not. He cannot. He will not. And his last four years in the White House prove it definitively," Romney said. Finally, he stopped amid the crowd's disapproving response.
"If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look," Romney said.
His speech tried to show independent and swing voters that his campaign is inclusive.
"If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone," Romney told the crowd. "Instead, it's worse for African Americans in almost every way."
The economy is the main issue in this year's tight presidential race. And with the US unemployment rate stuck at 8.2 per cent, it is an area where Obama is especially vulnerable.
The unemployment rate among blacks is even higher at 14.4 per cent. Romney argued he's best suited to create more jobs. He also mentioned his plan to increase school choice he's called education the "civil rights issue of our era."
"I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of color and families of any color more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president," Romney said.
Critics say the laws could make it harder for blacks and Hispanics to vote.
First Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 22:38