When Mitt Romney spoke to the NAACP’s annual convention on Wednesday, polite applause could be heard throughout, with two exceptions: 14 seconds of booing when Romney told the crowd he would repeal “Obamacare” if elected president, and several instances of small, but strong, pockets of vigorous applause.
Related: Romney ‘booed by design?‘
According to the NAACP’s senior vice president of policy and advocacy, Hilary Shelton, the cheers came from a group of black supporters who came to the speech with Romney. Shelton told MSNBC host Ed Schultz those are also the African-Americans Romney boasted to Fox News that he met with after the speech, who told him that many blacks won’t admit it, but they don’t plan to vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.
A source close to the proceedings provided theGrio with a list of 22 people, including 10 VIPs, Romney asked the NAACP to provide credentials for, and 12 others for whom “general” admission was requested. The general admission invites went to Romney campaign staffers and advisers, along with several members of a Texas black Republican group. The campaign reportedly asked for eight additional passes, though it’s not clear whether they were used.
Those on the VIP list include prominent black Republicans: the current lieutenant governor of Florida, Jennifer Carroll, and the former Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush, Rod Paige. Also among the VIP’s: rising GOP star Mia Love, vying to become the first black Republican member of Congress from Utah; another black Republican congressional candiate, Ryan Frazier, who is running for office in Colorado; Niger Innis, the national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and Pastor Jeffrey Brown, described in the request as a “personal friend of WMR,” referring to Willard “Mitt” Romney. Brown is also the executive director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, a conservative religious organization which focuses on mobilizing communities around programs for black and Latino youth.
Shelton says they are also people who don’t typically come to the NAACP convention.
“Whenever a candidate comes” to the convention, Shelton told TheGrio, “usually they have local elected officials, VIPs, etc.,” attend with them. “We always take care of them,” Shelton said, “so we told him ‘no problem.’ We were just delighted to have him.”
“These are people who don’t normally come to the NAACP convention,” Shelton said. “And that’s OK. Mr. Romney wanted them and we provided credentials for all of them.”
Innis and Carroll discussed their appearance at the convention with NBC News‘ Lean Forward blog, which reported that after the speech, the Romney campaign issued a statement from Carroll attacking President Obama’s policies.
Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, told Lean Forward Wednesday night that Shelton’s claims were “not true.” Asked Thursday about Carroll’s statement that she attended the speech as a guest of the Romney campaign, and Innis’s that he was urged to go by people connected to the campaign, Saul did not immediately respond.
Carroll argued to Lean Forward that Romney received a warm reception from rank-and-file NAACP members. At one point, she noted, he was applauded by half the audience. “He didn’t bring half of the audience,” she said.
Both Carroll and Innis also said they were among a group of black conservative leaders who met with Romney after the speech. Romney said on Fox News Wednesday that these leaders told him:”A lot of folks do not want to say they will not vote for President Obama but they are disappointed in his lack of policies to improve the schools.”
Not all of the 22 people the NAACP issued credentials for, but Shelton estimated that there were at least 15 people in what he described as Romney’s “cheering section.” And he said that since no NAACP members met with Romney after the speech, he presumes that his VIPs were the ones he described meeting with in his appearance on Fox.