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Romney makes pitch to black voters

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made a major pitch to black voters with a heavy emphasis on the economy, but he was booed when he promised to get rid of the Obama administration's health care overhaul.

"I will kill every expensive and unnecessary programme I can find, and that includes Obamacare," Mr Romney said, then waited and smiled through the crowd's disapproval.

Mr Romney will not win the black vote in his campaign against the first African-American US president. But Republicans and Democrats said he was making a statement just by speaking to the oldest US civil rights group.

His speech tried to show independent and swing voters that his campaign is inclusive.

"If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone," Mr Romney told the annual meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People in Houston, Texas. "Instead, it's worse for African Americans in almost every way."

The economy is the main issue in this year's tight presidential race. And with the US unemployment rate stuck at 8.2%, it is an area where President Barack Obama is especially vulnerable.

The unemployment rate among blacks is even higher at 14.4%. Mr Romney argued he is best suited to create more jobs. He also mentioned his plan to increase school choice - he has called education the "civil rights issue of our era."

"I want you to know that if I did not believe that my policies and my leadership would help families of colour - and families of any colour - more than the policies and leadership of President Obama, I would not be running for president," Mr Romney's speech said.

His speech was a difficult sell - 95% of blacks backed Mr Obama in 2008.

"The first thing you need to do is show up, so I ultimately think he's doing the right thing," said Rep Tim Scott of South Carolina, one of two black Republicans in Congress.

www.mittromney.com/(Mitt Romney campaign site)

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