Guest editorial…Romney in Philly for image makeover

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought his campaign to a charter school in West Philadelphia May 24.

Many may wonder why Romney took his campaign to an overwhelmingly African-American charter school in a city which is an overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold.

After all, he knows he has little to no chance of attracting many African-American voters to his campaign. An Associated Press-GFK poll this month found that 90 percent of Blacks would vote for President Obama in November and just 5 percent would support Romney, the Republican presumptive nominee.

Romney’s visit to the Universal Bluford Charter School is really about image. This is part of an effort to appeal mainly to White moderates and independent voters in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, an important swing state.

This school visit was part of a public relations effort to soften Romney’s image after a Republican presidential primary campaign where Republican presidential candidates made direct appeals to racial politics and took on social conservative positions on abortion and access to contraception that alienated many women voters.

Romney knows the extremist rhetoric expressed during the Republican primary could hurt him in a general election.

He is now seeking to pivot away from the hard right to the center-right. What better way to do this than to talk about urban education and be seen in a classroom with African-American teachers and students?

His visit to the charter school was also part of his week-long effort to reinforce his false portrayal of Obama as being beholden to teachers’ unions.

In a speech May 23 in Washington outlining his education platform, Romney said, “President Obama has been unable to stand up to union bosses—and unwilling to stand up for kids.”

This is far from the truth.

While the president enjoys the support of the teachers’ unions and does not demonize teachers as the Republicans do, there have been some key differences between the Obama administration and the teachers’ unions.

As an Associated Press fact-checking article pointed out, Romney’s assertion about Obama’s record on education does not line up with the facts:

“The facts: Several of the core tenets of the Obama administration’s signature education initiative, the Race to the Top competition, are policies first heralded by Republicans and are in opposition to the steadfast positions of teacher unions on topics like school choice and merit pay for teachers,” reports the Associated Press.

Romney is distorting the facts when he says Obama is beholden to union bosses and unable to stand up for education reform.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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