In May, Mitt Romney unveiled his education plans for America in front of the Latino Coalition. An effort to show he doesn’t hate them. Education was the key to this. Also helpful is constantly toying with the idea of bringing Marco Rubio in as the VP candidate.
Today, Mitt Romney reached out to voters by speaking at the NAACP conference in Houston. Of course, My Man Mitt (MMM) wasn’t reaching out to black voters with this speech. Instead, he wanted to show two things to all his gang out in the suburbs:
- He’s not afraid of large crowds of black people. [Check.]
- He’s not racist. [Check.]
Mission Accomplished, George…er, Mitt.
Republicans tend to do this on election years, at least when seeking initial election. Right now, President Obama leads MMM by 90% among black voters (92%-2%) while holding a 3% lead, overall. That’s unreal in politics.
When speaking to minority populations, Republican candidates love to focus on education. Here’s how Yahoo! News covered it:
Romney also appealed to the NAACP audience by touting his proposal to increase school choice. The presumptive GOP nominee has repeatedly described education as the “civil rights issue of our era,” and on Wednesday, he argued that “mediocre schools” are setting up kids for “failure.” In a dig at Obama, he argued that candidates “can’t have it both ways” by arguing they’ll protect kids while also protecting the interests of teachers unions.
How do you blow off over 4 million Americans? By using two words.
Those two words? “Teachers unions.”
The “civil rights” line is a typical Republican tag in election years. John McCain used it four years ago (for a nice analysis of the whole thing, look here). It makes it sound like they’re taking things seriously. They’re not, but it sounds like it. It looks like MMM cares. Appearance is everything in politics. That’s true on both sides. Nothing interesting there.
What’s amazing in this statement is the notion that Barack Obama is doing anything at all to protect teacher interests, union or not. Last week, the National Education Association held its annual Representative Assembly in Washington, DC. Every four years, they hold their annual meeting in the nation’s capitol to get the best speakers in an election year. This is a group that approaches the entire population of Kentucky. If it were a state, the NEA would have 7 electoral votes on its own.
What method did he use to address this group of supporters and HUGE donors to his campaign?
He dropped a phone call on them while kicking off a campaign tour in Ohio. The American Federation of Teachers will hold their annual convention in Detroit later this month. Nothing seems to mention an Obama appearance there, either. In fact, I cannot remember President Obama addressing a teacher union in person. Joe Biden might come. Michelle Obama might do Read Across America. Members watch videos of the president saying nice things to them. John Kerry sent Hillary Clinton to the 2004 RA, while he had dinner with his new running mate, John Edwards. Hey, you gotta eat…
While the NEA and AFT can’t send enough love his way, the president has other plans for an education agenda. DIY charter schools, warped “merit” pay, and that whole fake “choice” approach to things. All of those things make certain people a lot of money. They also drain district budgets, teacher morale, and the public education system in general. Nobody in the union leadership seems to remember Race to the Top. I do. Teachers were hurt. Now, they’ve become used to dealing with the pain it caused. I guess that makes it okay now. MAJOR battles for collective bargaining and teacher rights have been lost by Obama’s education supporters from the NEA and AFT. Still, it seems none of the blood has spattered on the president.
The NEA leadership does tend to fight the Secretary of Education, pretending that Arne Duncan is acting alone. It seems that rank-and-file teachers understand the situation. Leadership ignores this. They want to meet the president, right after Michelle Rhee is finished speaking with him.
When working for an affiliate of the NEA, I openly stated (and still maintain) that Barack Obama is the worst president in my lifetime, in terms of education. That made me unpopular in NEA circles. What it didn’t make me, though, was wrong.