The raucous reaction
came after Romney told the audience gathered in Houston for the civil rights group's annual convention
that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act
, known among conservatives as "Obamacare."
"I'm going to eliminate every non-essential, expensive program I can find, that includes Obamacare, and I'm going to work to reform and save--" Romney began before a resounding and sustained chorus of boos forced him to pause for 15 seconds before continuing.
"You know, there was a survey of the Chamber of Commerce... and they asked what effect Obamacare would have on their plans, and three-quarters of them said it made them less likely to hire people. So I say again, that if our priority is jobs, and that's my priority, that's something I'd change and replace with something that provides the people something they need in healthcare which is lower cost, good quality, a capacity to deal with people who have pre-existing conditions, and I'll put that in place."
"I'll also work to save Social Security and Medicare," Romney added. "People keep talking about the fact that those programs are on the path to insolvency, but nothing gets done to fix them. I will fix them and make sure they're permanent and secure for seniors today and seniors tomorrow. And I'll do that in part by means-testing the benefits, meaning higher benefits for low-income folks and lower benefits for high-income folks."
That drew applause from the audience.
Romney has a steep uphill battle
to fight if he hopes to gain traction among African-American voters, a group that overwhelmingly supports President Barack Obama. According to a May Washington Post
/ABC News poll, a mere 5 percent of likely black voters support Romney, compared to 92 percent who back President Obama.
The former Massachusetts governor addressed this issue in his NAACP speech on Wednesday.
"With 90 percent of African-Americans voting for Democrats, some of you may wonder why a Republican would bother to campaign in the African-American community," he said. "Of course, one reason is that I hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed, sexual orientation, from the poorest to the richest and everyone in between."
His choice of "sexual orientation" was peculiar considering Romney is a staunch opponent
of same-sex marriage, a position that was until recently supported by the majority of African-Americans. Romney stressed his opposition
to marriage equality in his NAACP address, declaring that as president, he would "promote strong families and defend traditional marriage."
While the audience did applaud that remark, African-Americans are slowly but surely embracing equality. The NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage
in May, shortly after President Barack Obama came out
in favor of marriage equality.
The President's endorsement resulted in a sharp rise in the percentage of African-Americans who said they supported gay marriage; according to a Washington Post
/ABC News survey taken weeks after his historic announcement, fully 59 percent
of U.S. blacks said they backed same-sex marriage, up from 41 percent prior to Obama's change of heart.