Vice President Biden rallied black voters to President Obama’s cause during an address Thursday to the NAACP.
Biden came in place of President Obama, who excused himself with a scheduling conflict. But that did not appear to disappoint the audience, which cheered Biden with vigor one day after booing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The vice president played to the crowd, remarking on its history as a civil rights group and suggesting Romney and Republicans would work against the organization on issues ranging from voter rights to racial profiling.
“We see the future where those rights are expanded, not diminished,” Biden continued. “Where racial profiling is a thing from the past, where access to the ballot is expanded and unencumbered. ... Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again? We went through these battles, I didn’t think we’d be back.”
Democrats have been highlighting voter rights and allegations of suppression by Republicans as they work to keep turnout by black voters high this fall. High turnout by blacks would help Obama, who carried the black vote in a landslide in 2008 and leads Romney 92 percent to 2 among black voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.
The Department of Justice and the state of Florida are suing one another over Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s attempt to purge voter rolls of ineligible voters in his state. Attorney General Eric Holder also highlighted voter rights in an address earlier this week to the NAACP.
Romney was booed Wednesday after vowing to repeal “ObamaCare,” which Biden championed in his speech. He said the president had pushed the healthcare law despite political risk and said it would increase insurance coverage for blacks.
“It required him early on to use up almost all of his political capitol,” Biden said, “but he was right, he cut $100 billion from the federal debt over the next 10 years, providing access to ... 8 million black Americans who would never have had insurance.”
Romney in his speech noted high black unemployment and vowed that blacks would be better off with him in the White House than Obama. He also highlighted his father’s work in the civil rights era.
Obama, who last addressed the convention in 2009, sent a video message that played ahead of Biden. Some questioned the move, but the crowd responded emphatically to Biden, booing him only when he said he was close to ending his speech.
Biden closed by turning to the courts, which through the Brown vs. the Board of Education case and other cases in the civil rights era, hold a deep meaning with the NAACP audience.
“Close your eyes and imagine what the Romney justice department will look like [if Romney is president],” Biden said. “Imagine who is likely to be picked as attorney general, the head of civil rights division.
“Imagine, this to me is one of the most critical issues, imagine what the Supreme Court will look like after four years of a Romney presidency. I believe this election will come down to character and conviction ... and I don’t think it’s even a close call. It’s time for the NAACP to ... inspire a generation,” he said.