House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks Mitt Romney got the reception he wanted at the NAACP convention in Houston this week. “I think it was a calculated move on his part to get booed at the NAACP convention,” Pelosi told Bloomberg Televsion.
I think she’s right.
Pelosi, no doubt, remembers delegates to the 1990 state Democratic Convention booing lustily as gubernatorial candidate Dianne Feinstein affirmed her support for the death penalty. That’s just what the former San Francisco mayor wanted. She was looking to assure moderate Democrats and independents that she may have been mayor but she didn’t share all of her city’s liberal politics. Her speech made headlines. It also made a great TV ad, helping her surge past John Van de Kamp and win the Democratic primary, though she was defeated by Republican Pete Wilson in the fall.
Romney has a different problem, but, like Feinstein, he stands to benefit from the boo birds. The other GOP candidates couldn’t stop Romney in the primaries, but they effectively painted him as a spineless, flip-flopper, a candidate who will say anything to advance his cause. You don’t think Democrats weren’t watching closely? So what he said in Houston is less important than the response it prompted. Romney managed to get booed not once, but three times, by an advocacy group that isn’t popular with the Republican base voters he still needs to satisfy. It didn’t happen because he said what they wanted to hear. This episode won’t change the election, but it helped change the story in a week when conservative pundits at the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard are lambasting his campaign.
Politics may be about making friends, but sometimes there’s more traction to be gained by picking a fight. Just ask Dianne Feinstein.
– Jim Sweeney