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Mitt Romney booed at NAACP. Could that be good for him? (+video)

The jeering started when Mitt Romney told the NAACP crowd that he would eliminate 'Obamacare.' Conservative analysts say the incident gives him credibility on the right and among independents.

By Staff writer / July 11, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney smiles as he is booed after saying he would eliminate 'Obamacare' at the NAACP convention in Houston on Wednesday, July 11.

Richard Carson/Reuters

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Mitt Romney was booed on Wednesday while speaking at the NAACP annual meeting in Houston. The moment occurred a little past the halfway mark of the presumptive GOP nominee’s address, when he talked about what he’d do to curb government spending.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday was met with outbursts of boos while addressing the NAACP's annual conference in Houston, when he mentioned repealing the Affordable Care Act and criticized President Obama, saying he "has not, he will not, he cannot" drive job creation.

“I’m going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find. That includes ‘Obamacare,’ ” said Romney.

The jeers started then, and Romney stopped speaking and let them roll on, standing with a fixed smile on his face for about 15 seconds. It’s not clear if the audience was defending the president’s health-care reforms, or just didn’t like derogatory use of the Obama name. There were more scattered boos a bit later in the speech when Romney said President Obama “cannot” do all the things he’s promised, but there was applause as well, particularly when Romney talked about GOP school choice initiatives.

Here’s our question: Is it possible that the booing incident will actually be good for the Romney campaign?

Some conservative analysts think it will. Their argument is that Romney will win few African American votes anyway, and that his willingness to say things he knew would be unpopular to the NAACP audience will win him support from other demographic groups.

“This gives him all sorts of instant credibility on the Right and in the middle,” writes conservative talk show host/blogger Ed Morrissey on the Hot Air website. “The middle will be pleased to see that Romney went to the convention at all, in the face of overt hostility, plus the NAACP audience comes across as a bit immature. The Right has doubted Romney’s commitment to repealing ObamaCare at times, but this shows that Romney is willing to repeat that pledge anywhere, even when it’s guaranteed to turn the audience against him.”

After all, Romney agreed to speak to the NAACP, but Obama gave it a pass this year, noted conservative pundit Michelle Malkin.

“Ok, President Obama, Romney went into NAACP lion’s den. When will YOU venture outside your bubble?” Malkin tweeted on Wednesday.

Others on the right noted that Romney got some applause from the NAACP members, as well. They approved of his mention of GOP school choice initiatives and his defense of what he called “traditional marriage.”

“And [Romney] did get a standing ovation when all was said and done,” wrote Kathryn Jean Lopez on The Corner blog of the National Review.

Left-leaning commentators were much less impressed. The liberal talk show host Ed Schultz of MSNBC tweeted that the booing was “an ugly moment for the candidate,” and that Romney tried to “sneak” the repeal Obamacare line past the audience.

And the Democratic National Committee quickly seized on the moment, sending out its own tweet asserting that under Romney’s proposed tax plan 2.2 million African American families would lose their current tax credits for children and earned income.

“Romney didn’t mention this to the NAACP,” read the DNC tweet.

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