When Mitt Romney addressed the NAACP on Wednesday, he was booed for promising to eliminate the “non-essential” Affordable Care Act that will provide 30 million Americans, including 8 million African Americans, with health care. Today, when Vice President Joe Biden took the stage, he was booed as well — for having to end his powerful speech. “Let me close, my friends,” Biden said, which was followed by the crowd’s shouts of “No!” — a clear contrast to Wednesday’s Romney debacle.
Biden, a man known for his gaffes, was near flawless in an address that was interrupted again and again with loud cheers from the audience. While conservatives criticize Obama for not speaking at the annual convention himself, Biden proved to be a highly impressive spokesman. A lifelong NAACP member, the Vice President greeted his audience with nostalgia, saying “It’s good to be home,” and then had a couple of friendly shout-outs to his old friends, including “Mouse” who Biden says, “got my back a bunch of times.” Biden’s warm and easygoing personality shone through.
After enthusiastic greetings, he quickly transitioned to the subject of Obama, who “has the character of his convictions.” Biden recalled Obama’s major achievements: the Affordable Care Act, the auto industry bailout, the economic stimulus plan that rescued the financial system, and the decision to kill Osama bin Laden. But, Biden reminds the audience, these actions were unpopular or perilous — and yet Obama did them all because “he has put country first.”
Biden blasted the Republican party as obstructionists who did not “reach across the aisle to help” on any of Obama’s goals and policies. The Republicans’ plan, Biden condemned, was “not to get us out of this recession, not to promote jobs, not to do the things that needed to be done, but to make Barack Obama a one–term president.”
The majority of Biden’s speech was spent on outlining the differences of what an American future with Obama as President would be to an American future with Romney. Biden’s rebuttal to Romney’s remark to NAACP that “If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him,” began with the issue of education. He emphasized the “massive cuts” that Romney’s budget plan called for while mocking Romney for believing that lowering class size may actually hurt students more than help: “Tell that to all those private schools. Tell that to all those parents.”
Biden also addresses the issues of energy, women rights, health care, and taxes, always explaining the danger of Romney’s policies while touting Obama’s policies.
He ended with civil rights in response to the Republican voter suppression laws. Biden prompted the audience to remember what NAACP’s original goal was when it first formed in 1909: “Remember what this at its core was all about, why this organization at its core was all about. It was about the franchise. It was about the right to vote,” his voice rising, “Because when you have the right to vote, you have the right to change things.”
“We see a future where those rights are expanded, not diminished; where racial profiling is a thing of the past; where access to the ballot is expanded, and unencumbered; where there are no distinctions made on the basis of race or gender in access to housing and lending…Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again?” Biden quietly responds to his own question: “I didn’t think we would be back,” as he reminisces about the time he worked with Republicans on The Motor Voter Act that sought to expand franchising through early voting and voting by mail, pointing out that some of these were Republican ideas. But now, Biden warns, Romney and the Republicans “see a different future, where voting is made harder, not easier.”
Biden exited to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and to a real standing ovation from a crowd that wholeheartedly appreciated his impassioned speech. And that, Mitt Romney, is how you address the NAACP.
Watch the full speech below: