The National Journal's Tim Alberta evaluates Mitt Romney's speech before the NAACP in Houston Wednesday as a "gamble that paid off" despite boos from his opponent's home crowd -
Those who follow Romney's campaign and report regularly on his events often describe him as rote and guarded, someone whose speeches can seem sleepy, uninspired and vague. Those people saw a different candidate on the stage in Houston. Like a baseball team that grows complacent playing a stretch of home games, Romney displayed renewed focus and determination in front of the hostile road crowd. He spoke with aggravated empathy about the African-American unemployment rate reaching 14 percent. He hammered the issue of job creation, arguing that Obama's economic policies have disproportionately harmed minorities. And he expertly used education reform as a wedge between the president and his supporters in the audience, earning sustained applause when arguing that "candidates cannot have it both ways" -- i.e., Obama must choose between advancing education reforms and protecting teachers' unions.
It was a fine performance, one that delivered a distinct message to observers of all political stripes. Democrats saw a candidate who embraced adversity and wasn't afraid to mix it up. Republicans saw a candidate who was quick on his feet and took a punch without falling down. And independents saw a candidate who isn't the "extremist" or "panderer" his opponents portray him to be. To the contrary, his message to the liberal organization was consistent with his everyday conservative stump speech, and the optics of Romney confidently courting an opposition audience should play well with skeptical suburbanites eager for someone willing to set aside differences and talk about solutions.
The rest of Alberta's evaluation is HERE.