Philly Attitude Greets Visit From Mittens

Mitt Romney’s campaign team has been quietly laying plans for an outreach effort to President Obama’s most loyal supporters — black voters — not just to chip away at the huge Democratic margins but also as a way to reassure independent

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Mittens doesn't have to win over black voters, as this reporter points out. He only has to look moderate to suburban swing voters:

Mitt Romney’s campaign team has been quietly laying plans for an outreach effort to President Obama’s most loyal supporters — black voters — not just to chip away at the huge Democratic margins but also as a way to reassure independent swing voters that Romney can be inclusive and tolerant in his thinking and approach.

Compassionate conservativism! Where have I heard that before?

That plan, still in its early ­stages, ran headlong into the harsh political realities on the ground in Philadelphia on Thursday, when Romney was treated to a hostile welcome on his first campaign swing through a poor black neighborhood this year.

A few dozen protesters met him with chants of “Get out, Romney, get out!”

Madaline G. Dunn, 78, who said she has lived there for 50 years, said she is “personally offended” that Romney would visit her neighborhood.

“It’s not appreciated here,” she said. “It is absolutely denigrating for him to come in here and speak his garbage.”

Romney took his campaign to the Universal Bluford Charter School in West Philadelphia aiming to highlight his education agenda but also to connect with voters who were not part of his political calculus during the primary campaign. “I come to learn, obviously, from people who are having experiences that are unique and instructive,” he said.

Despite the obvious difficulties, Romney’s outreach to black voters could reap dividends even if he is unable to significantly chip into Obama’s support. “Suburban voters will be a real battleground, and upscale white voters like to think of themselves as tolerant and they won’t vote for a candidate that is seen as exclusionary, and the Romney folks must be aware of that,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “He has to persuade suburban voters that he isn’t Rick Santorum. He could break the mold a little bit and do some campaigning in African American communities. It would get people talking, and it would be all gain and very little pain.”

But there was evidence on Thursday that it would not be painless. Among the protesters heckling Romney from a distance were some of Philadelphia’s most prominent officials, all of them Democrats.

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