I wanted to share an interesting side story from the Romney’s campaign event on Saturday. I arrived early with flip cam attached to my monopod in hand at the Iowa Statehouse grounds. I was talking to a friend when approached by a couple of young Romney staffers. They asked who I was with, and I replied I was with Caffeinated Thoughts. They were not familiar with me (evidently they are *incredibly in touch* with Iowa politics) so they asked me if it was a conservative site. I said “yes” and handed them my card with the URL so they could check me out.
I was told that if I was a liberal blog I would be asked to leave. I asked how would that work since the rally was being held on public land. One of the staffers told me, “right now, we own the land.”
If I had not been so shocked by that remark I would have told this “kid” (which is what he was) that no… the Romney campaign my have a permit to hold a rally there, but the land belongs to the taxpayers of Iowa. Secondly is the question of whether it is legal to ask anybody, let alone a member of the press (blogger or not, that is what I am) to leave a public meeting on public land. I have contacted the Iowa Department of Administrative Services about the incident and wanted their feedback on whether or not, according to state law, whether the Romney campaign has the authority to remove people who are not being disruptive.
The third thing to note is the asinine practice of singling out bloggers at these events. Who cares if I was a liberal blogger or not? If they have nothing to hide it shouldn’t matter. This event was open to the press. Credentialing wasn’t required, and frankly anybody attending the event who wanted a video to post to Facebook or YouTube could have videoed the event with their cell phone. Any video taken whether it was a conservative blog, liberal blog, member of the mainstream media or a spectator when made public can be used or linked to anywhere.
Ask Rick Santorum that question after The Huffington Post and Think Progress caught wind of his comments about contraceptives in an interview I had with him. That video was also played on Rush Limbaugh, CNN and MSNBC. It is poor practice to exclude any media from your event. If Republicans believe in free speech and the freedom of the press they should allow anybody to participate. It doesn’t matter what the other campaign does or doesn’t do. It doesn’t matter what slant they take. It is making a huge assumption that members of the mainstream media will take a non-biased approach.
Also having been to numerous political events for numerous candidates or organizations this is the first time I’ve ever been asked such a question. I’ve run into Think Progress bloggers, for instance, at Rick Santorum events and events The FAMiLY Leader has held. They weren’t afraid of their presence and neither should the Romney campaign.
So if you want to run a transparent campaign this is a stupid practice, and what they threatened to do on Saturday had I not been a “favorable” blogger is likely illegal.