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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Reaction to Romney at NAACP

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, R - PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If our goal is jobs, we have to stop spending over $1 trillion more than we take in every year.

(APPLAUSE)

And so to do that I'm going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find. That includes ObamaCare. And I am going to work to reform and save -- 

(BOOS)

ROMNEY: I can't promise you that I'll agree on every issue. But I do promise that your hospitality to me today will be returned. We will know one another.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Mitt Romney addressing the NAACP convention in Houston today.  Some cheers, some jeers. The Republican former governor of Massachusetts kept it to the economy, most of it, and pointed to the jobs figures, the June jobs number, 8.2 percent unemployment. And in the African-American community, 14.4 percent. He mentioned that. And after the speech, spoke to Neil Cavuto about the reception.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I spoke with a number of African-American leaders after the event. They say, you know, a lot of folks don't want to say they're not going to be voting for Obama, but they are disappointed. At the end of my speech having a stand ovation was generous and hospitable on the part of the audience. And I believe that while we disagree on some issues like ObamaCare, on a lot of issues people see eye to eye, they want someone who can get the economy going again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: What about this appearance we're back with the panel. Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I just thought it was such a bold move by Mitt Romney, who I normally think of as very cautious a politician, to go before the NAACP. Because, ya know, he could have easily have had a bad moment. Remember Ross Perot with "you people." That became the story. So here he goes before.

And not only that, when the booing started with regard to Obamacare, he didn't back down. To me, that was very impressive. To me he explained his position. And he explained it in terms of jobs and the economics. And I think that he might have won some people, at least their respect if not their vote.
And I would add here he also, I think, again spoke to a critical issue when he talked about poor quality education in the black community and why is it that people don't hold President Obama accountable and don't put more pressure on him -- this goes back to what we are talking about in the first segment -- in terms of that relationship between Democrats and the unions.

BAIER: Pat President Obama is not addressing the convention. Vice President Biden is.

PAT BUCHANAN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It is win-win for Mitt Romney going down there, as Juan says. John McCain got four percent of the African-American vote, the same share that David Duke got running for governor of Louisiana. He has nothing to lose, he has everything to gain by going down there and being respectful and speaking out frankly, against ObamaCare. That reinforces his position back with his own constituency.

And Juan's point is well-taken. Look, 14 percent unemployment in the black community, upwards of up to 50 percent drop-out rate in some inner cities, 73 percent illegitimacy rate, little seven-year-old girls in Chicago selling candy are being shot. And that is not the fault of Mitt Romney. I think that is something that the NAACP ought to be addressing. And I give Mitt Romney credit for at least raising the unemployment question.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I agree entirely with Juan, which, of course, is alarming.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Can we do a Fox News alert. Should we put up a graphic?

(LAUGHTER)

KRAUTHAMMER: Freeze the moment. [INAUDIBLE] in hard copy. Look I think Romney helped himself a lot. Number one, Woody Allen once said "showing up is 80 percent of life." He showed up in a hostile or a non- friendly environment. And I do agree the way he handled the opposition in the speech is important, because Romney has a reputation as a guy who doesn't have a core, who doesn't have a spine, and changes his position depending on the audience or the time of day. And so he goes out there and he speaks about ObamaCare, he sustains the boos. And then he gives evidence which he has that ObamaCare's going to hurt jobs. So I think he showed that he will stick to his guns, he'll be respectful.

And the importance here, I think is to show a distinction between Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats are a coalition of special interest constituencies. Obama, he goes after Hispanics, blacks, women, gays, students, unions. And he dangles in front of each of them something, either legislation or financial reward or something in the tax code. Romney is saying I'm going act non-ethnically, non-specifically. I'm going to act as a president of all Americans. We all have an interest in a strong economy, all have an interest in jobs and this will help you as it helps all other Americans.

BAIER: Pat, what about, on another issue, conservatives concerned with the Romney campaign, that they are not bold enough despite what we're saying here about this move and that they need more heavy hitters on the team. What do you see about --

BUCHANAN: I don't know about the heavy hitters but I share the concern. I think the Bain Capital attacks and the Cayman Islands things and the Swiss bank accounts and all the rest of it, that suggests he's a corner cutter. And then they go into the Bain Capital thing about sort of a chop shop he is running. And I think it's very damaging to Mitt Romney especially among working class folks in Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and Michigan. And I think Governor Romney's got to have, I think he's got to come to a program, a positive program on the economy, and he has to get out there and deliver it.

BAIER: New people?

BUCHANAN: I don't know about new people. But I think he needs some speechwriters, I will say that, being a former speechwriter.

BAIER: Pat, we have never had a winner of the New Hampshire primary on the panel, so 1996. Thank you, sir. Panel, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for reporting on the heat.

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