Mitt Romney touted his work with the Massachusetts black caucus on education reform Tuesday, just ahead of his speech Wednesday to the NAACP.
The GOP nominee told supporters in Grand Junction, Colo., that the black caucus helped uphold his veto as Massachusetts governor when he blocked a teacher union-supported bill to limit charter schools.
"You might think it's going to be hard for my veto to be upheld," Romney said, citing the Democratic majority in the Massachusetts state legislature at the time. "But in this case, the black caucus came to my aid, along with a number of other leading Democrats, saying, you know what, particularly in the urban area, our kids need school choice to get out of some of the worst schools."
Romney was responding to a question about his policies on education, which he said should favor school choice. He promised that federal dollars that go toward education will follow the children, not the schools or district, so parents can make their own choices.
Romney's focus on black lawmakers in particular, only a day ahead of his speech to the NAACP, highlighted his campaign's jump into the push for black voters, a majority of whom support President Barack Obama. Romney will be giving an address to woo those voters at the NAACP conference, which both Obama and his 2008 rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) addressed in the last campaign.
Romney's Colorado town hall touched a number of issues, from Democrats calling him a would-be "outsourcer-in-chief" -- "If there's an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the president of the United States, not the guy who's running to replace him" -- to whether minors should be able to receive life prison sentences.
On the second point, the focus of a recent Supreme Court ruling, Romney declined to say whether he agreed with the court's decision that imprisoning a juvenile for life was unconstitutional.
Later, an audience member brought up Romney's religion to ask about the rights of women and abortion. The questioner wasn't contentious -- he said he respects Romney's views on liberty generally -- but the audience booed and shouted when he mentioned the Mormon church.
"Considering, for instance, your religious affiliation, and it being a minority," the audience member said, interrupted by shouting. "I know. I guess my question is, in terms of social equality and in terms women's rights and gay rights and liberty in that area, what is so wrong about exploring liberty and giving liberty to everyone in every field, not just in the economy?"
Romney responded, without mentioning religion, by saying he agrees that everyone has the right "to pursue their course in life as they choose." Still, Romney said that he and the audience member probably disagree on things like abortion. (Romney also opposes same-sex marriage, another issue the questioner alluded to.)
"I do believe in providing personal liberty, economic liberty, political liberty to the American people," Romney said. "I believe that everyone in this country should have the opportunity to pursue their course in life as they choose."
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to say that Obama will not speak at this year's NAACP convention.