Mitt Romney received a less-than-amicable welcome to West Philadelphia yesterday, where he visited the Universal Bluford Charter School to highlight his education agenda:
Obama campaign volunteers Protestors organized a demonstration outside the school, and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and district attorney Seth Williams spent the morning railing against the presumptive Republican nominee, the Washington Post reports.
“It’s nice that he decided this late in his [campaign] to see what a city like Philadelphia is about,” said Nutter. “I don’t know that a one-day experience in the heart of West Philadelphia is enough to get you ready to run the United States of America.”
Williams added, “Instead of just talking at the school and getting back on his huge bus, he should come out, he should walk 60th Street, he should talk to folks who are out here that are mad so maybe he could understand how real Americans [feel], those that live here in urban America, the issues that are important to us.”
Obama supporters gathered on the sidewalk, shouting, “Get out, Romney, get out!” Seventy-eight-year-old Madaline G. Dunn told the Post that she was “personally offended” by Romney’s visit: “It’s not appreciated here. It is absolutely denigrating for him to come in here and speak his garbage.”
But while Romney’s appeal to black voters may be slight, his visit got us thinking: Has Obama visited West Philly this election cycle? Or any other inner cities?
Funny. It seems he hasn’t. The last time Obama was in West Philadelphia appears to be April 22, 2008, when he was in town for the Pennsylvania primary (which he lost). He visited a barbershop several blocks southeast of Universal Bluford Charter School and dropped in for a photo-op at a neighborhood daycare, where the teachers managed to whip the children up into an “Obama!” chant.
How long did Obama spend in West Philadelphia? Less than a day.
It is still a question when Obama will make his way into the inner cities on the 2012 campaign trail. Whether sooner or later, though, won’t it be awfully “late in his [campaign],” by Mayor Nutter’s calendar, to see what those cities are all about?
And at the moment, at least, those cities are about poverty and unemployment: Black unemployment is hovering around 13 percent, compared with April’s overall number of 8.1 percent (and both numbers are likely higher, since they do not take into account the increasing number of adults who have abandoned the job search altogether). Among black teens, unemployment is a staggering 38.2 percent, roughly double that of their white counterparts.
Meanwhile, where has Obama campaigned so far in 2012? Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and Ohio State University in Columbus, where he launched his reelection campaign to an embarrassingly empty arena; then a $40,000-a-plate fundraiser at George Clooney’s Hollywood mansion. Next week he will appear at the “Barack on Broadway” fundraiser with Bill Clinton and a flock of theater stars, including James Earl Jones, Stockard Channing, and Angela Lansbury. Two days after that he will return to L.A. for a fundraiser with Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy, then, on June 14, join Bon Jovi and Sarah Jessica Parker at the actress’s Manhattan residence for what she promises will be a “fabulous” affair.
So, you know: He’s been getting to know “real Americans, those that live here in urban America, the issues that are important to us.”