Romney aides, Secret Service block press from event rope line
May 16th, 2012
12:51 PM ET
2 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."

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"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. JG

    And this is news because??? The headline sounds worse than the actual story. So what if Romney's people manage the press according to their terms. The candidate should be allowed time to meet and greet supporters without the distraction of New York Times, Politico, LA Times (all of these a.k.a "Obama's press staff") who are only out to get him with gotcha type questions. Besides doesn't the Obama admin pre-screen questions from reporters during his press conferrences – isn't that worse? And why isn't anyone in the press complaining about that?

    May 16, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Romney is the stereotypical current day republican. He is very secretive and above questioning by reporters or anyone else.

    May 16, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. enuff

    First off, Romney needs to get EXPERIENCED media handlers – ones that know at least what B-Roll is. Second, wouldn't it be wiser to use the strategy of making the media your friend so that they just gush over you rather than open the door for them to slap you for every goof you might make? Third, why is secret service being used to "protect" against media, when that is not their job?

    May 16, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. Jude

    Mitt has been actively avoiding answering any real questions for some time. He'll only go on Faux News and speak with other right-wing media people. He won't even face the scrutiny of Meet the Press. The reason is that he has no real core principles and can't reconcile his record in Massachusetts with his currently conservatism. What a fraud!

    May 16, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. Thomas

    @once upon a horse
    I persoanlly would LOVE to see Obama on FoxNews with an interview.....better yet let him be on Fox and Friends on the couch with their beloved three. It will NEVER happen and one reason it won't is because the president will be there to DEFEND himself against the barbs that the Fox folks put out and perhaps even show FACTS (ohh that dreaded word right wingers despise). People like Hannity, Palin, and most of them attack the president when he is not there to defend or dispute their attacks, and that is the way Fox likes it. Case in point the Bill O'Rielly interview where he interrupted Obama so many times it wasn't even worhwile looking at. Or the time Obama was having a debate with some on the right about Healthcare and when it seemed Obama was winning the debate, Fox cut it off and went to other programming. FoxNews supporters are in a bubble so why bust that bubble by having Obama on to speak his side of things.

    Very Well Said !

    Mitt Romney
    Evade / Obstruct / Deregulate

    May 16, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  6. NotFooledByDistractions

    You call it an "error" – I'll call it pullin' a Palin. It's just another act of cowardice by Mr. Romney. If he's afraid to talk to the press, how can we expect him to deal with world leaders? Another problem is, Romney is running to represent ALL Americans, not just fox viewers. He needs to man up, he can't hide behind the security detail and Ann's skirt forever. I actually think the media should ignore him and his campaign appearances. Let him pander to the fox folks and lose all the other media coverage.

    May 16, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. Gary Owen 2/7

    This guy has been campaining for 6 years and they still don't have it down. What would he do if he wins this thing? Better yet, what are we going to do? Yikes!

    May 16, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. Northernstar

    Get a grip people. He wanted to do a "meet & greet" with the people. Not get harpooned by a bunch of reporters asking the same tired questions they always ask. He has a right NOT to have the press in the rope line. They were asked not the get in the rope line. The reason this is getting so much coverage is because the PRESS wants to make a big deal about it.

    May 16, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  9. IndeePendant

    '"I would like (my people) to fire people" if the come near me', so said Romney-da-Liar, who assaults people if they are not to his liking.

    May 16, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  10. Robert

    It's Romeny himself that is the "error"

    May 16, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  11. Cayman Islands

    romney had not yet been briefed about what he believes today and did not want to mess it up.

    May 16, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. fernace

    Mitt Romney is having secret meetings? No press Allowed? Sounds like he either has Something to hide or Nothing to say! I vote for the latter & Obama/Biden 2012!!

    May 16, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. nolimits3333

    Romney will not go on any of the Sunday news shows.

    He is terrified of being interviewed by anyone but Fox Lies.

    May 16, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  14. b

    maybe he peed his pants

    May 16, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. Terry

    Romney is afraid that a reporter is going to ask him which newspapers and magazines he reads.

    May 16, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. onevoice

    Is Mittens related to Sharron(I dodge every question) Angle?

    May 16, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  17. craig

    Why does the press want to hear what Romney has to say...he's not very interesting & he rarely makes any sense.

    May 16, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  18. DNA

    Remember how the Shrub hated the press? ... and Palin??? Lord you know she really hates the press! You know why? Because they're like cockroaches scurrying away under the bright lights of honest scrutiny! You can expect more of this if Romney is elected.

    May 16, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  19. TRISH C MISSOURI

    I think the whole thing is hilarious!! Romney is joke – just stop reporting on him – he doesn't have the support Ron Paul does, so he'll come begging you guys back – don't worry! You are just in that cycle "what goes around, comes around" he won't treat you like you treat Ron Paul forever...

    May 16, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  20. Robert2U

    Heven forbid the voters should get better access to the candidate than the press. Now the main street press is acting like the tabloids.

    May 16, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  21. Spike2014

    Wow! You liberals are sure angry and bitter. Maybe you should spend more time reading instead of ranting and raving. You may see that our freedom is being attacked by the current administration. Just ask someone in the military–their freedom of speech has been taken away. Cry if you want, but at lease Bush didn't try to muzzle our military folks!

    May 16, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  22. demrules

    So Willard has been told that he should not make any more off the cuff statements like the Jimmy Carter statement concerning bin Laden. The GOP posse will do anything, including physically handling the press, to keep them from asking Willard a question that he does not have sense enough to answer with dignity. What a turd!

    May 17, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  23. Dee

    Sorry for typo I meant non-Conservative

    May 17, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  24. chrisnot

    Even Jimmy Carter would have ordered an attack on Bin Laden? If memory serves, Jimmy Carter was a nuclear submarine commander with a vessel carrying enough firepower to "toast' anything he aimed it at. Perhaps Mr. Romney would like to explain the last time he was even remotely responsible for this military burden. And, Romney wants to be the Commander in Chief. There's a really scarey thought.

    May 17, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  25. guest

    Time for him to act very Presidential, and BLAME THE SECRET SERVICE.

    May 17, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8