Romney aides, Secret Service block press from event rope line
May 16th, 2012
12:51 PM ET
6 years ago

Romney aides, Secret Service block press from event rope line

St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - Press aides for the Romney campaign and a lone Secret Service agent attempted to physically block reporters from asking questions of the GOP contender along an event rope line in Saint Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday.

The brief altercation was captured on video by CNN. A spokeswoman from the Romney campaign later called it "an error."

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"We're not going to do this," Romney press aide Kristin Warren can be heard saying in the video as she held out her arms to prevent various reporters from approaching the rope line, an area where Romney was shaking hands with supporters.

In the video, Warren can be seen standing in the way of New York Times correspondent Michael Barbaro, Los Angeles Times correspondent Maeve Reston, and Politico reporter Ginger Gibson.

"This is for the governor to talk to voters and when there's B-roll opportunities, we'll bring folks in," Romney's traveling press secretary Rick Gorka explained to CNN. B-roll is additional footage of a subject shot by television cameras in addition to a speech.

Minutes later, a Secret Service agent instructed reporters to move away from the rope line.

"Unless you're escorted by staff, you have to come off," the agent said in a separate video captured by CNN. The Secret Service does regulate the flow of journalists in and out of campaign events. But agents do not typically prevent reporters from working along the rope line.

Reporters eventually made their way within earshot of Romney. He did not answer a shouted question about the Obama campaign's latest attacks on Romney's business career at the private investment firm Bain Capital.

Romney has at times appeared frustrated with reporters' attempts to ask questions along the rope line. But on other occasions, the candidate has responded to such queries.

Late last month, Romney seemed eager to answer a rope line question about whether he would have ordered a mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

"Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order," Romney quipped after an event in New Hampshire.

Prior to the St. Petersburg event, tension between Romney's staff and reporters had been building.

On the press bus en route the event, a Romney press aide instructed reporters there would be no questions for the contender.

Reporters immediately protested and part of the ensuing uproar made its way on to Twitter. "Press lead on the #Romney bus announces there will be no questions for the candidate today. "'Isn't that our decision?' a reporter asks," tweeted Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Murray.

After the event, a senior Romney adviser acknowledged to CNN the rope line dust-up could have been handled better.

"I want to fix this," the adviser said.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul described the events as "an error on the part of the campaign staff and volunteers."

"We have reminded them that press is allowed on the rope line to record the governor's interactions with voters," Saul said in an email.

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien explained in a statement the service "does not restrict the movement of the press into general public areas or their movement within these areas."

- CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. anagram_kid

    First of all, I agree that the rope lines are not the place for press. However, if Gov. Romney would do an interview on a network besides Fox news, this would not be an issue. Also, his reluctance to demonstrate that he can think on his feet is reminiscent of President GW Bush and ½ Governor Palin. If he cannot handle an interaction with reporters, what is his plan for interacting with foreign leaders or members of Congress?

    Obama 2012 – Because courage matters

    May 16, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. American

    Let's face it. Romney does not have the courage to do a real interview with someone challenging, such as say Rhodes Scholar Maddow. It could be must-see tv & even campaign publicity, but sadly, Romney is too scared.

    By contrast, President Obama has the strength to meet directly with Fox News more than once, including Bill O'Reilly.

    May 16, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. bluedogboy

    If he goes off-script, he is in trouble. His advisors won't put him in a position to say anything stupid.

    May 16, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. Evan

    You can't be President of the USA if you do not respond to the press. This is North Korea. Fox news has a role, MSNBC has a role, CNN has a role you can't ignore them or muzzle them. He is not running to be CEO of a private company

    May 16, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Patricia Thomas

    Romney does not like to talk to reporters because he is afraid that he will say something ignorant, which he usually does.

    May 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. rope-a-dope

    Romney is wise to avoid the press. AS long as he keeps avoiding the press or interviews he is doing better in the polls. in fact, I'd not be surprised if he doesn't debate Pres. Obama if he is up in the polls. Why would he?

    May 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. mike

    Romney is coward he only speaks to Fox and is terrified of all the other media! I guess meeting with Iran or Korea would make him wet his pants!

    May 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Eventually, the Romney campaign is afraid to let Romney talk outside his comfort zone. Maybe afraid of another gaffe.

    May 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Dan Halen

    This is so typical republican. They have done this with every presidential candidate (and elected President) since the beginning of time. It's called smoke and mirrors. They want to build a facade for the press and public of their faked out candidate. A really good example is GWB. They went into overdrive with him and made that idiot look like a knight in shining armor.

    May 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Ronda in Houston,TX

    I can't wait for the Obama/Romney debates. Hope Romney isn't another Rick Perry.

    May 16, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Pete

    Just another moment in this side steppers life,Romney scared to answer anything,but can't evade the future debates.Where he'll have to answer in public against a seasoned public speaker and debater with Pres.Obama.The gigs up Romney,ya can't go to school to get the debates down pat,Pres.Obama has that already,good riddence old man with your magical diapers,hope they'll hold up well,you'll need em too!!!

    May 16, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. The Film Professor

    Once again, Republicans try to do everything they can to get reporters to shut up and stop asking questions.

    But why would the Secret Service agree to enforce this? What possible risk to the safety of the candidate can there be from legitimate members of the press?

    May 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Rex Little

    But he did carry Nebraska with 71% of the vote. That means that almost 1/3 of his own party would rather vote for no one than him. Not a chance in November.

    May 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Larry L

    Romney knows better than to face the real press – content to get pre-arranged questions and answers from Fox News. I'll bet the Koch brothers preview all answers to be certain the boy they bought doesn't stray too far. Is this what Republicans want?

    May 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Malory Archer


    A total lie!
    Since we all know the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Politico are too good at pimp themselves out to have problems with the Sercet Service.


    I'm sorry, can you repeat that – this time in English?

    May 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. 1twinsfan

    If you want someone's vote, you have to give sit-down interviews and state what your platforms and positions are. Since Romney really doesn't do this, the reporters have to try other tactics.

    May 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. FedUp

    Who cares? We know the media NEVER gets a chance to ask questions, she said facetiously. Doesn't matter. They just make up the answers. When they do get answers, they edit the tapes to make it look however they want it to look. The media ranks right up there in truthfulness with politicians and snake oil salesmen, with apologies to snake oil salesmen.

    May 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. alleygator

    Republicans hate America's freedom of the press.

    May 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Rudy NYC - He already has. He appeared on the O'Reilly factor last year for a private interview. It was the one where Bill kept asking questions and then interrupting Pres. Obama whenever he began to speak.
    Yeah, Obama just couldn't resist horning in on the large Super Bowl audience. And yes, O'Reilly doesn't allow people to not answer the question that was asked, even the President. Or to go off on endless filibusters on unrelated topics. Which is why Democrats and Obama won't do real interviews with tough interviewers. Their Smoke and Mirror Show doesn't work there.

    The fact is Obama pretty much sticks with the softball interviewers that kiss his rear and ask him what his favorite color is. They don't want to upset him with tough questions or questions about his failed policies.

    May 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. notahistorianbut

    President Obama was on faux news on: April 27, 2008 (Fox News Sunday); May 17, 2010 – Bret Baier interview; January 7, 2011 Fox News Channel – Bill O'Reilly; February 6, 2011 – Bill O'Reilly; May 2, 2011 Bret Baier. I think it'd be great if people (as they're able to post comments) looked things up to verify the legitimacy of their comments. This is for those who say he's never been on the faux station.
    All I know is that the more people I know watch this station, the angrier, nastier, and more hateful they become. The minions should also look up the research showing that people watching faux news are dumber then those who watch no tv at all. According to a Pew Research study in 2007 faux watchers are the least likely to be knowledgeable about current/national affairs. Additionally, the polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals’ primary source of news. Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely. [Link] (pdf)

    May 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Core republican Values

    Romney handlers have a huge job. As the candidate of the 1%, somehow they have to deceive, mislead, and lie successfully enough so that roughly half of the 99% will vote for them.

    May 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    "On the press bus en route the event, a Romney press aide instructed reporters there would be no questions for the contender."

    Afternoon siesta, or too busy hand washing his jeans?

    May 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. Niuhc

    Another week, another ObamaCare program cancelled for underperformance. The Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP) was designed to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions until 2014, when every insurance company will be mandated to take all comers, regardless of their current medical condition. The Obama administration maintains that virtually half of all Americans suffer from a pre-existing medical condition, and it expected up to 375,000 enrollees. Only 56,000 actually signed up, but while total enrollment was overestimated, the cost per enrollee was underestimated - cost per person was actually 2.5 times higher than originally figured. The miscalculation indicates that the administration is - surprise! - lowballing the total cost for covering the uninsured.

    May 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -Obama 2012 – BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Candidates are there to campaign and interact with VOTERS. The press is there to cover it, NOT interfere with it or hijack the event for their purposes. If they want interviews than request them. Reporters being obnoxious jerks should be asked to leave. These events are NOT all about THEM.
    I agree. Can we ban FOX, since they are not a legit news organ, but a foreign-owned propaganda outfit that's going to lose its license in the UK for doing exactly what you describe?

    May 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. Peter

    The problem with a CEO running as President is that a CEO generally is in nearly complete control of his image and statements, does not need to interact with anyone he does not want to, and can orchestrate virtually everything inside and out.

    I have no idea why anyone thinks that the skill set of a corporate CEO is the same that's required to deal with Congress, the press, International leaders, etc.

    May 16, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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