Did Mitt Romney’s campaign plant African-American supporters in the audience to cheer for the speech the candidate gave Wednesday to the NAACP? That’s what the NAACP’s Hilary Shelton claimed on The Ed Show. (See Late Updates below).
Romney said today that after the speech, at which he was booed for saying he’d repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, he met with black leaders who told him they support his policies but are afraid to do so publicly.
But on The Ed Show, Shelton said those were likely people brought in by the Romney camp “to actually provide the cheering for him.”
"Quite frankly, the campaign actually gave me a list of African-American VIPs that they brought into the NAACP meeting," Shelton told Ed Schulz. "So we were aware that they had people brought in specifically for the campaign. So I’m sure those were the ones they sat down with, because quite frankly none of the rank-and-file NAACPers met with him."
Indeed, despite the boos, cheering can be heard at various points during the speech, including when Romney criticized President Obama over the economy and education.
Shelton said that none of the people Romney met with were active NAACP leaders, and that Romney’s referring to African-American conservative politicians like Niger Innis who “was brought in from New York.”
Pressed by Ed Schultz about whether Innis and the others were actually members of the NAACP, Shelton said: “They’re bringing people in that they know will support his agenda from other places, that aren’t active with the NAACP. These are people who are brought in to actually provide the cheering for him, so there will be some support along those lines.”
We’ve reached out to the Romney campaign and to Innis, a conservative African-American activist, to ask about Shelton’s claim, and will update if we hear back.
Romney told Fox News earlier: “I spoke with a number of African-American leaders after the event and they said, you know, 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,”
Late Update, 9:55pm: Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul tells Lean Forward via email, referring to Shelton’s claims: “Not true.” Asked who Romney was referring to in his Fox News remarks, Saul did not immediately respond.
Late Late Update, 10:12pm: Mark Thompson, a radio host who attended Romney’s speech, is backing Shelton’s claim.
Thompson told Lawrence O’Donnell, host of The Last Word, that Romney “brought about 20 black Republicans with him,” who served as “applauders for his applause lines.” Thompson called the move “bizarre,” and added, again echoing Shelton, that these were the black leaders Romney was referring to in his comments on Fox.
Even Later Update, 10:58pm: And Roland Martin of TV One’s Washington Watch, tweeted earlier today: “Romney bussed in about 200 supporters, including a number of African Americans, including Fla Lt Gov Jennifer Carroll.”