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Fri Jul 13, 2012, 07:03 PM

"Badmouth Habit: Mitt Romney sucks up to his next audience by triangulating against his last one"

Badmouth Habit: Mitt Romney sucks up to his next audience by triangulating against his last one.

By William Saletan at Slate



The crowd applauded. But the young man hadn’t asked about abortion. He had asked about gay rights and women’s rights. Why didn’t Romney answer the question? Maybe it was because the young man’s voice set off the gaydar of everyone in the room. Or maybe it was because polls on gay rights, unlike polls on abortion, have shifted against Romney’s position. Either way, Romney chose not to touch that issue in front of a possibly gay questioner in a swing state.

Romney was happy to bring up gay marriage the next day, though. His audience was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Blacks have generally opposed gay marriage more than whites have, though some polls have differed. That’s why Republicans have used gay marriage as a wedge issue to lure black voters. In his speech, Romney paused and carefully delivered a canned applause line that he hadn’t used in his campaign stops before white audiences: “ I will defend traditional marriage.” He got his biggest ovation of the morning.

Romney told the NAACP attendees he was there to earn their votes. “Support is asked for and earned, and that’s why I’m here,” he professed. But that night, he went to a fundraiser in Montana and proudly noted that the NAACP had booed him for criticizing “Obamacare”:

By the way, 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 … When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare, they weren't happy, I didn't get the same response. That's OK, I want people to know what I stand for and if I don't stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that's just fine.


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