(CNN) – Television audiences for the two presidential candidate forums hosted this week by Univision, a Spanish language network, could be excused for coming away with the impression that Latinos are wild about their positions on Latino issues.
But what the viewers might not realize is the Wednesday night program with Mitt Romney and another Thursday night with President Barack Obama at the University of Miami forum are stocked with ringers.
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As first reported in The Hurricane, the University of Miami student newspaper, the university said they received 380 of the total 750 tickets to join the audience watching Romney take questions Wednesday night - but only with the stipulation from the Romney camp that they go to members of the campus Republican groups.
The Obama campaign asked that a smaller portion of the tickets they gave the University of Miami go to student groups supporting Democrats and the rest be distributed by lottery. The process of ticket distribution is not unusual for campaign rallies hosted at institutions but is notable for an event represented as a nonpartisan question and answer format.
Perhaps ironically, Univision decided to hold the forums because the Commission of Presidential debates chose no moderators of Latino ethnicity and the television network felt that their issues would be misrepresented.
Univision and the university both confirmed that the 300 tickets that didn't go to partisan students would be distributed by the campaigns themselves to their local supporters. That means the only audience members who were not supporters of the campaigns were the 75 chosen by Univision.
Univision broadcast the Romney event on its television stations around the country, which reach audiences well into the millions. Those audiences had no way of knowing that the folks sitting in the chairs at University of Miami were chosen mostly by the Romney campaign unless they watched other Univision reports or saw the broadcast made available by the co-host, Facebook, where a Univision commentator warned viewers of the partisan audience.
In a statement, the University of Miami said: "Because of rules imposed by the campaigns, the University had to give preference to politically affiliated student organizations and student leaders. The University got roughly half of the tickets for each event."
The university had originally planned on distributing the tickets through a lottery, but according to the Miami Hurricane and campus officials, the Romney campaign objected, followed by a similar request by the Obama campaign. The partisan audience cheered wildly to every answer Romney gave at last night's event, interrupting Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, the Univision anchors who already had trouble getting in pointed follow up questions because of the simultaneous translation.