Mitt Romney discusses African-American economic empowerment with Black Enterprise

Mitt Romney

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at the Reno Event Center on October 24, 2012 in Reno, Nevada. Mitt Romney is campaigning in Nevada, Iowa and Ohio. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney, GOP presidential contender, spoke to Black Enterprise recently in a rare interview to targeted African-American press. Perhaps because he is so closely aligned with business, the focus of the publication that secured the interview, Romney felt secure in taking this opportunity to address this voter segment that many feel he has neglected. Yet, Derek T. Dingle, author of the resulting story, seeks to remind readers that Romney has made definite efforts at black community outreach.

“Although polls show that his support from African Americans is almost nil,” Dingle writes, “the former Massachusetts governor and ex-CEO of private equity firm Bain Capital has engaged in some activities to reach out to African American voters through his appearance at this year’s NAACP convention, the release of a targeted campaign commercial featuring African American endorsers, [the] installation of a black political advisory group and recruitment of high-profile GOP operative and conservative pundit Tara Wall as a senior communications adviser to advance his message.”

In speaking with Dingle, Romney reiterated in different ways his intention to level the playing field economically for African-Americans without relying on or creating new programs that specifically address financial disparities.

“My ambition is to target and encourage small business. I don’t have plans to provide a special set-aside for minority-owned businesses other than the programs that currently exist,” Romney told Black Enterprise. “So, I will continue to encourage small businesses to grow, and to be the most pro-business president we’ve seen in a long, long time.”

For Romney, being pro-business means rolling back what he terms “Obama era regulations,” taking on perceived threats from China, and lowering the personal income tax rate significantly because, “Most small businesses, as you know, are taxed as individuals, not as corporations,” the Republican nominee said. “So, I want to take the top marginal rate from 35% to 28%. And I want to cut all the other marginal rates by 20% across the board. That allows small business to keep more capital and grow their enterprise.”

When asked about empowering entities like the Minority Business Development Agency to further increase African-Americans’ access to capital and other resources, Romney admitted that, “I don’t know a good deal about the program,” adding, “So I’m not going to tell you it’s going to be eliminated or cut because I just don’t know enough about it or about how effective it’s been in terms of it stimulating minority business investment.”

The former governor of Massachusetts believes — similar to President Obama’s “rising tide lifts all boats” theory of jobs creation — that race will not be a factor in addressing unemployment.

“I see it being 6% or less by the end of my [first] term,” Romney said of the national unemployment rate. “The best thing I could do to help African American unemployment is to create growth of the overall economy which will lead to greater employment overall.”

Read the complete Black Enterprise interview with Mitt Romney on BlackEnterprise.com.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.