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

    Why is Romney afraid to face reporters? Oh yeah, because he's an idiot.

    May 17, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. Lucky18

    Someone probably asked a profound question that Romney couldn't and wouldn't answer!
    He has a lot to hide!

    May 17, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    How can keeping the press away be called an error when he has attempted for the past two years to only appear before picked news media members who will not ask questions that are not considered "safe". Kind of like Dubya's "town halls" where the participants were hand-picked by the local Republican Party big wigs, and who only asked pre-screened questions, or were allowed to make rambling statements praising Dubya without asking anything.

    May 17, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. dnick47

    Error?!?!?! No, it was not an error, it was part of the script. Again Romney shows he's not fit for public trust. Also, their is another Secret Service Agent who needs to be fired.

    May 17, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. jennymay

    "The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."
    -JFK April 27, 1961

    May 17, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  6. NFLD thought

    Come on now Mitt; you will have to face the questions sooner or later. What are you afraid of? We are used to you flip-flopping so step up and answer the questions.
    The longer this campaign goes on the dumber you come across.

    May 17, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  7. Elwood

    R-Money can't lower himself to answer questions from the lowly and unwashed. The only time you'll see Willard talking to the press it's as follows:

    "That's fantastic Governor! You are super awesome, replied __________ (insert name of of faux news tv celebrity)

    May 17, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. Qi

    Drive by socialist media are always attacking and trying to slant things with only facts. If you want the truth come to FOX.....Romney 2012

    May 17, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney needs to "Face The Nation", instead of going on a "Fox News Sunday" walk in the park.

    May 17, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. The REAL Truth...

    don't worry folks.. once he officially becomes the Grand Obstructionist Party candidate, he'll get to Face The Nation plenty between Aug and Nov.. There's really no hurry.. we already know that the party of "NO!" has no platform, no viable candidate (heck they can't even find some who WANTS to be his running mate), no viable policies, no intent on compromise, and no chance in Nov. 🙂
    Have a nice day....

    May 17, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. allen

    Perhaps in their frustration, the reporters should have just interviewed the secret service guy about hookers.

    May 17, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    Ah, Mitt. We hardly know you ... and what little we do know, we don't like.

    Mitt Romney couldn't lie his way past the Liberal Ted Kennedy. Mitt Romney couldn't lie his way past the Conservative John McCain. We'll see if etch a sketch will be able to lie his way past the current President . Given that the media is all but lapping up Mitt Romney's "drool" as fast as he "spews" it, it might just happen this time around for Mitt. Then again, it probably won't. Nearly all of America has had it up to it's neck with the media, and for good reason.

    As it is, America is still waiting for the media to pressure Mitt into listing those 100,000 jobs he says he created back in the Bain days. Certainly hasn't been any Mitt Romney job creation in the past decade or so. Just thought I'd throw that out there ... Mitt's non job creation at a time when America desperately needed a job creator to ... well, create jobs.

    May 17, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. asdf

    Stop pretending that this is news. Maybe candidates don't want to spend every waking moment answering the same questions from the same people over and over again. Honestly – Romney has probably been asked on camera about Bain Capital 10,000 times. You know what his answer is.

    May 17, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  14. whoCares

    Look at Romney’s beady eyes and fake smile. Who would ever vote for this guy? He has pervert written al over his face.

    May 17, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. AiyeSiss

    What is Romney hiding that requires such a human blockade?

    May 17, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. Katie

    Oh this is nothing. In 2004, when GWBush was campaigning, he set up "Temporary NO Free-Speech Zones", meaning there was NO free speech allowed where he was. People were carefully screened to be Bush friendly, protestors and most reporters were denied access – and they were told it was because this was a 'temporary no free speech area'.

    May 17, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. John The Electrician

    He wil;l only answer questions on FOX. He's a Sara Palin retread.

    May 17, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Qi wrote:

    Drive by socialist media are always attacking and trying to slant things with only facts. If you want the truth come to FOX.....Romney 2012
    Fox News cannot even tell news story without turning it into an op-ed piece. FNC was launched in 1996, one month before the general election, with the express purpose of being a propaganda machine. It was obvious from the start their programming had a conservative bias, and offered an avenue for conservatives to get low cost air time. In fact, some accused the network of offering free air time as their 'political analysts' viewed and analyzed campaign commercials for their viewers.

    May 17, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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