Romney aides, Secret Service block press from event rope line
May 16th, 2012
12:51 PM ET
3 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. ThinkAgain

    @maximusvad: "He is very afraid to ad-lib anything to the press."

    And so Mittens' campaign will be like the Quitta from Wasilla's: Scripted before too many people realize he's not that bright and his policies (reruns of failed GOP standbys like trickle-down economics) will take our country back to the financial ruin President Obama inherited.

    May 16, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. tom

    I think he's getting a touch of Palinitis....afraid you're gonna stick your dogonne silver foot in your mouth if you have to answer unscripted questions which actually make you think, speak and have an original thought.

    May 16, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. zulu

    If he can't man up to the press I will hate to see him go against my President in the soon to come debates, Mittens trying to crawl his way into the white house like the snake he is without being vetted, MAN UP MITTENS!!!!

    May 16, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Michael Golden

    If you are dumb, you don't want to answer questions.

    May 16, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  5. MikeB

    Really, aren't these campaign rallies for the people interact with the candidates and not for a bunch of sound-bite mining Obama operatives?

    May 16, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  6. BunnyBunny

    Get back you reporters, you might ask Romney questions he doesn't have lies for yet!!

    May 16, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. zulu

    Not only can he be man to face the press now he's using the USSS as thugs, makes me think he wouldn't think twice about starting another war.

    Obama/Biden 2012
    H.Clinton/M.Obama 2016

    May 16, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Devon

    & this Wuss wants to be Commander in Chief??????? LOSE THE SKIRT MITT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 16, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  9. Donkey Party

    Willard Romney, the Sharon Angle of the East.

    May 16, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  10. Penobscot

    Dems have to search for negative news about Romney. Pathetic.

    May 16, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  11. mary

    1. This man is rich enough to pay for his own security.
    2. Press.....get used to it.......remember Sarah Palin.....would not answer questions.....this guy may have his own reasons for not allowing questions......
    3. Don't mess with the "flip-flopper" he may look for you and hack your hair......lol

    May 16, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  12. newz4i

    Mr. Romney's staff is using government personnel (SS agents) to prohibit our press? Oooops.

    May 16, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. roflstomper

    Sounds like a return to the bad old days under Dick Cheney and an Executive branch that would rather tell the media only what they want them to hear. How long before Romney closes his events to reporters entirely, except maybe a couple hand picked friendly reporters?

    May 16, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  14. EdSantaFe

    Yes. They might have asked a question.... keep the press away, just like Bush did.

    May 16, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Mike

    And why is this a story?!?!? It not like an entitled group of reporters can mob Obama anytime they want.

    May 16, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  16. waikikijohn

    Only FOX reporters will be allowed to ask Mitt questions. We wouldn't want him to trip up and possibly say how he really feels...

    May 16, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  17. JJ

    Why would Obama waste time appearing on Fixed News? :) Romney is behaving like Vladimir Putin. Pathetic. This shows he KNOWS the only way he's going to get into the WH will be with a tour ticket, and only with President Obama's permission. When they start flailing like John McSame and throwing tantrums like Dick Cheney, it means they have finally realized what loozers they truly are. :)

    May 16, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. John the Historian

    I can't believe Romney is the Republican candidate. Even the Christian Right nit cases in the South will not vote for a cult fllower mormon and a bishop at that. I hope Willard has the major defeat he deserves for being a flip flopper.

    May 16, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. TM

    Willard is a COWARD. Anything other than a canned question and he runs and hides.

    May 16, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. RINO Bil

    So the Secret Service Agent got involved because the reporters posed a physical threat to Mitt Romney?

    Sounds to me like that agent needs to get some perspective and NOT become part of the campaign staff.

    May 16, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. Squigman

    Let's see, wasn't the cold war brought on by secretive acting politicos. Secrets here, secrets there. And soon, the people didn't know who to salute. Is this really what we want? Not me.

    May 16, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  22. craig

    Well, we can't have him being asked questions he's not prepared to answer, such as where his spending cuts would be. Things like that might mean he'd have to actually say something meaningful, and...worse yet...he could be held accountable for taking a position. We know how much he hates that! Heck, like Kerry, he was probably for the war before he was against it...that is, until he claims he actually took no position at all.

    May 16, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    Romney is a lier racist bully and a gay basher. No questions because he has no answers. He just bashes. Forward. Obama / biden 2012.com

    May 16, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  24. normajean @ verizon ,com

    ROMNEYS MEN ARE KEEPING THE PRESS AWAY FROM HIM SO THERE WON"T BE ANY MORE CASES OF HIM WITH HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH...HE IS GETTING TOO DANGEROUS FOR HIS PARTY IF HE SAYS ANYTHING.This is a man who finds it as easy to lie as to tell the truth...I don't think he can even tell the difference any more. In fact i don't think he cares. If he loses he will just go back to his millionaire life style and forget about the country and what a mess he helped create....why should he care?? He's got his!!!!A vote AGAINSTt him is worth its weight in gold this year!!!!

    May 16, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. heskeeter

    Tell me its not so....Willard hiding from the press AGAIN????...where have i seen this before...next thing you'll know he'll
    be charging for his appearances on TV.

    May 16, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
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