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After Romney Is Booed, Biden Is Cheered At NAACP


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. And we begin the hour with presidential politics in two venues, on stage and on screen. First, the stage. In Houston, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the annual gathering of the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization. Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was booed at that meeting yesterday when he called for repeal of President Obama's health care law.

Today, Biden delivered a fiery defense. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: President Obama didn't make it to this year's NAACP event, citing scheduling conflicts, but he did send a long a video shown to the delegates this morning.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to thank everybody at the NAACP's 103rd convention for coming together not just today, but every day.

GONYEA: Then came Vice President Joe Biden, a substitute, but one who received a greeting any headliner would take.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Please, thank you very much. You know what they say, flattery is all right as long as you're don't inhale.

GONYEA: By contrast, yesterday, Mitt Romney was greeted only politely as he took the stage. This is, after all, a group that overwhelming supports the nation's first black president and his running mate. Biden cited his lifetime NAACP membership and quickly got down to the business of the day, making the case for the reelection of President Obama. First, he laid out first term accomplishments...

BIDEN: When the economy was about to go over the cliff, I watched him make some of the toughest decisions any president has had to make since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

GONYEA: Biden spoke of the crisis in the nation's financial industry and the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler. He highlighted the Affordable Care Act to big cheers. And there was this about his boss...

BIDEN: This is a man who made the call to go after Osama bin Laden. It was a bold - it was a bold decision.

GONYEA: Then, he switched his focus to the Republicans and Mitt Romney.

BIDEN: By the way, I think Mitt Romney's a fine family man. I believe he's driven by what he believes. But the differences are so basic about how we view the future America.

GONYEA: When Romney spoke to the NAACP yesterday, he did not mention a GOP push across the country to pass voter ID laws, laws that the NAACP sees as a way to suppress the black vote. Biden did not let the topic pass and got his biggest cheers when he said defending voting rights is essential.

BIDEN: 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.

GONYEA: At one point, Biden said he was preaching to the choir. He was. Afterward, 45-year-old Missy Christian(ph) from Quinlan, Texas talked about the difference between Biden and Romney, whose speech she also attended.

MISSY CHRISTIAN: Romney was talking at us instead of to us and whereas the vice president was talking to us. You know, he was comfortable in his surroundings. You could feel it.

GONYEA: Reviews for Biden were universally positive in this room. There was still some disappointment, though, that it was the vice president and not the president who came here today. Fifty-seven-year-old Donald Galamore(ph) is from Reno, Nevada.

DONALD GALAMORE: Now, I don't want to say upset, that's a little strong, that Obama didn't show up. This is his natural foundation. This is where he should probably be almost first and foremost.

GONYEA: Galamore said the Obama campaign can't and shouldn't take any vote for granted, though they do still have his vote, he said. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Houston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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