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March 21, 2012

What Do Mitt Romney & His Contenders Think About Trayvon Martin?

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Written by: Kelly Virella
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Mitt Romney. Photo Courtesy of Flickr/DaveLawrence8

Read more articles in our Trayvon Martin Watch.


few weeks ago, it would have been reasonable to speculate that neither Mitt Romney nor his contenders had ever heard of  Trayvon Martin. At the time, few of the national news outlets were talking about his murder. But now, with even my beloved but belated muse the New Yorker  on the case, the candidates must know and have an opinion.

Rubio might lock Romney into a pro-“Shoot First,” pro-Zimmerman stance, but I can easily see Romney choosing that stance for other reasons

Their Twitter accounts speak nothing of the tragedy consuming black America and outraging much of the nation. But two political bloggers that I read this morning  — and No More Mister Nice Blog — offer some insight that, if correct, bodes poorly for Romney’s stance on the killing.

Republicans are  abuzz over the possibility of making U.S. Senator Marco Rubio — a Republican Cuban-American representing Florida — their vice presidential nominee. Given America’s burgeoning Latino population, Rubio could also be a smart choice for reeling Hispanic voters into the Republican party and for winning Florida — a swing state — during the 2012 election. Numerous polls show he would be a popular choice among Republican voters and Newt Gingrich said — when his campaign held more promise — Rubio “looks awfully good” as a vice presidential candidate. Rubio is — deliberately or not — feeding the frenzy by raising his profile, in part by releasing a new book. speculates that Romney could very well choose Rubio. And if Romney does, this could lock him into a position that is very unsympathetic to Trayvon.

Rubio was a supporter of the Florida law that George Zimmerman appears to be using to defend himself — Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law — which allows the use of lethal violence to protect yourself as long as you “reasonably believe” it’s necessary to stop an assailant from hurting you. The “Stand Your Ground” law — nicknamed “Shoot First” — was enacted in 2005 after being championed in the Florida state legislature by National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, according to the Coalition To Stop  Gun Violence. If someone were to ask Rubio where he stands on the law, No More Mister Nice Blog speculates: “I bet he won’t dare to defy the gun lobby and the far right.”

I agree that Rubio would probably defend the law, but I think this analysis is a pretty convoluted approach to predicting what Mitt Romney would do. Sure, Rubio might lock Romney into a pro-“Shoot First,” pro-Zimmerman stance, but I can easily see Romney choosing that stance for other reasons, like a wish for campaign contributions from the NRA or even a belief in “state’s rights.”

In 2002, the NRA stopped short of officially endorsing Romney’s gubernatorial campaign, but they phone banked their Massachusetts members asking them to support him. In the video to the right, Romney talks about the nuances of his support for the NRA. In another more recent YouTube video, he praises them.

Sadly, I don’t think we even need to bring Marco Rubio into the discussion to reasonably deduce that Romney isn’t going to call for a full-fledged investigation of the killing or the police cover-up.

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.