HOUSTON, Texas — The black leaders that attended the NAACP Convention here Thursday heaped praise on Vice President Joe Biden for a heated morning speech, but one question quietly pervaded the gathering: Where was President Obama?
Obama’s decision to skip the annual convention in the heat of his re-election bid has been a point of constant speculation here in recent days, providing a sort of microcosm for how the black community views the nation’s first African-American president as he nears the end of his first term.
“The people here overwhelmingly supported President Obama, would have loved to have President Obama here. So there’s definitely some disappointment about that,” said Dedrick Muhammad, director of the NAACP’s Economic Department.
Convention organizers said the president’s office cited a “scheduling conflict” as the reason he couldn’t attend. (Obama spent today in Washington D.C., and has no major public events.) And the president did make an effort to ensure the convention that he hadn’t forgotten them, appearing in a brief, pre-taped video praising the organization that aired before Biden’s address.
But one former Obama administration official noted to BuzzFeed that the move looked like a snub.
“Even considering the politics here, it seems odd that the first African-American President is sending his vice president to address the NAACP national convention in an election year,” the official said.