Supporters at Romney campaign event waiting in the rain.

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.”

Some thoughts…

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.

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      1. kudos to you, you made front page of politics on reddit. this is wrong, thank you for pointing that outl

        i do not share your politics and was shocked to see your blog name, but you pointing out this wrong has earned my respect

  1. I am proud of you for reporting this so unbiasedly. Wrong is wrong no matter what side of the fence your standing on. 

  2. Considering that “conservative” is right there in your masthead, we probably disagree about a lot of stuff.  But we definitely agree as Americans that when there is a campaign event in a public (government) owned venue, then the campaign staff don’t have the right to kick out non-disruptive journalists just because they don’t like the “slant” of that newspaper/TV channel/website.

    Democracy needs journalists, even the ones we don’t like (as long as they are reasonably honest).

    I would add that, wether they like it or not, candidates *should* hold public campaign events in public parks and town squares, which are open to everyone.  We *should* expect this of our candidates – that they be resilient enough to withstand public scrutiny.  But in reality, we are seeing fewer public campaign events, and more private events held in the homes and estates of the extremely wealthy.  Of course, even “the money changers” who are citizens deserve their fair voice in our democracy, but I think we all worry when they are the only voices our elected officials are actually listening to.

    (I would like to quibble about one thing, though.  You wrote that “the land belongs to the taxpayers of Iowa.”  In our system, we strive towards equality of opportunity, but have no guarantee of equality of outcome.  As a result, some citizens will be wealthy and be able to pay a larger share of taxes, while some citizens will have literally nothing and as a result pay no taxes.  But the town square or a park “belongs” to all the citizens, regardless of how much they paid in taxes.  If not, then these “kids” from the campaign could have demanded your tax returns (irony intended) and replied, “Oh, you didn’t pay *enough* in taxes to be admitted to this event, get out!”  I don’t think that’s the kind of system any of us want.)

  3. This dovetails into the broader subject of how open and transparent the Romney campaign is being. Lets talk taxes. The rule of thumb, that Presidential candidates should open their tax records for multiple years, was established by Mitt Romney’s FATHER long ago! For Romney to make the claim that one of the major reasons he should be President is his experience as private businessman, but then not back that up by opening his tax records, well, that makes his claims ring hollow. When you hear that Mitt was willing to turn over DECADES of tax records to John McCain (so he could be vetted for Vice-President), it makes you wonder, “Does Romney not respect the American People as much as John McCain?” The Romney campaign comes across with a sense of entitlement, that they know better than “you people,” just … because.

    The openness and honesty of the Romney campaign has also come under question with the obviously mendacious technique of intentionally quoting Obama out of context and then feigning great indignation at the misquote. That’s a strategy of LYING that Mitt Romney has returned to again and again. And again, it shows a fundamental disrespect for the people Romney wants to lead.  It’s an attitude of “I can lie and get away with it, be you people don’t know any better.” How Conservatives can keep their lunch down around that sort of free-form twisting of the truth is beyond me!

  4. “I don’t agree with your opinion, but i will fight tooth and nail for your right to have/say it” – Unknown

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