The situation, as the bard says, is much ado about noting. If Romney were a democrat, there would not even be a story. When Senator Byrd can get on national live TV and use the term "******" just two years ago, and there is no "black leadership" outrage, the fact of my so called "black leaders" shows itself as the political posturing that it is.
Tar baby is a racist term simply because it is also used in the south to reference black children. I know Romney used it in a colloquium, and he meant nothing about it. I can forgive him because he is a Yankee and does not know the underpinnings of that term. The word "*********: is a Swedish word meaning "cheap or miserly". When about five years back some DC city councilman used the term in the correct context, he was ousted for its use.
Just because a word works does not make it politically smart to use that word. Romney assumed that people knew the meaning of the phrase, and that was his error. He should remember, however, that the first martyr to the American Revolution was a black man, in his home state, in his home city of Boston. It was Cyprus Adams, killed in the Boston Massacre.