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Monday, December 5, 2016

Dear Mitt Romney: I was pleased to hear that you have accepted an invitation to speak in July before the 103rd convention of the NAACP in Houston. In anticipation of that event, I have taken the liberty of writing a speech for you. It’s only a beginning, space limitations being what they are, but it should get you off to a solid start and you can take it from there. So, here it is:

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to speak before the nation’s oldest and most storied civil rights organization. I propose not to waste this moment by filling it with the usual vague promises and platitudes. Instead, I want to try something politicians almost never try. It’s called straight talk.

“I am not unmindful that, because of my party affiliation, many of you view my presence here with a certain amount of skepticism. Nor am I unaware that the Republican Party has often seemed to go out of its way to earn that skepticism. The examples abound.

“There was, for instance, the time in 1996 when Sen. Bob Dole refused an invitation to speak before you, saying your then-leader was trying to set him up. In 1994 when Jeb Bush was running for governor of Florida, someone asked what he would do for black voters if elected. ‘Probably nothing,’ he said.

“Nor do we have to go back to the ’90s to find justification for your skepticism. In this very day, we see members of my party seeking to gut the Voting Rights Act and questioning the legality of the Civil Rights Act. We have seen them accused and even convicted of voter suppression. And, yes, we have seen my party provide a haven for those whose animus against the president is motivated not by honest political differences, but by simple, malignant bigotry.

“So, yes, I am aware that my party has done much to earn your skepticism. It is my hope that today we can begin the process of earning your trust. To that end, I propose a complete reset of the relationship between African-American voters and the Republican Party. Today, I serve notice that we intend to do something we have not done for more than 50 years: compete for your votes.