When presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney takes the stage Wednesday at the NAACP convention, the former Massachusetts governor won’t be the only elephant in the room.
On Tuesday, the NAACP unanimously passed an “emergency resolution” calling the bipartisan votes to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress a “travesty of justice.” The resolution is meant for the NAACP to “express their outrage at the treatment of the first African-American and one of the best attorney generals in history.”
As the resolution passed, Holder got rock-star treatment, walking around shaking the hands of many of those in attendance.
Romney has a much different view of Holder than the NAACP. “There’s not very much that Eric Holder does that I agree with,” Romney said at a campaign event late in 2011 in New Hampshire. “I have to wonder how it is that the president continues to support him, and the answer must be the president agrees with him.”
“Eric Holder would be long gone by the time I came around [as president of the United States],” he added.
Romney has called for Holder’s resignation over Operation Fast and Furious, too. He joins 130 House members, eight U.S. senators and two sitting governors in demanding Holder’s resignation over the scandal.
“Either Mr. Holder himself should resign or the president should ask for his resignation or remove him,” Romney said in early December 2011. “It’s not acceptable for him to continue in that position given the fact that he has misled Congress and entirely botched the investigation of the Fast and Furious program.”
Romney also supports voter ID laws — something the NAACP, Holder and Obama’s administration vehemently oppose.
When asked if Romney plans to talk about any of the aforementioned issues during his Wednesday NAACP convention speech, though, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul replied with just one word to The Daily Caller: “Economy,” she wrote.
Romney’s decision to avoid talking about anything but the economy when heading into a potentially unpleasant situation — like he’s doing by speaking to NAACP on the same stage as Holder spoke the day before, while refusing to address his criticism of him — is a campaign tactic that has drawn fierce criticism from conservatives as of late.
Washington Post columnist George Will said just this weekend that Romney “seems to be risk-averse.”
“He seems to be in something of a four-quarter stall — that almost-killed basketball,” Will said. “So, they put in a 30-second shot clock. But you can’t get the NCAA championship — you can’t get to the presidency — running out the clock. So he’ll have to do something more than say, ‘Obama’s not working.’ And he said to CBS News this week, ‘As long as I keep talking about the economy I’ll win.’ But it’s what you say about the economy and what hope you give to people.”
Will’s criticism came on the heels of the Wall Street Journal editorial board criticizing Romney for not being firm enough in the face of attack. “The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it’s Mr. Obama’s fault,” the WSJ editorial board wrote. “We’re on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that ‘Obama isn’t working.’ Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the president’s policies aren’t working and how Mr. Romney’s policies will do better.”
And, among others, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has attacked the Romney campaign via Twitter over the past couple weeks. “Met Romney last week,” Murdoch tweeted. “Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.”
Department of Justice reform is but one of the many areas the Romney campaign has avoided completely, save for those few rare instances in which the former Massachusetts governor has attacked Holder.
Romney’s only real comments about Fast and Furious, other than his call for Holder’s resignation, came during the NRA convention — a controlled environment friendly to criticism of Holder — earlier this year. “I applaud Congressman [Darrell] Issa and Sen. [Chuck] Grassley for their work in exposing the ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal,” Romney said then, according to prepared remarks. “And I applaud NRA leadership for being among the first and most vocal in calling upon Attorney General Holder to resign.”