Is Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney poised to have a new monkey wrench thrown into his attempt to win over more Latino voters? A Buzzfeed report sourced via an interview with a top Spanish-language broadcaster how whipping its way around the Internet and being reported on websites such as the New York Daily News’ below could hurt if it gets more wider distribution. Here’s a chunk of it:
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney stacked the audience at the recent Univision presidential forum with Republican activists to ensure he would get a raucous welcome when he hit the room, one of the moderators claims.
If you recall, Romney was also accused of stacking the audience when he spoke before the NAACP. In that instance, too, viewers and readers didn’t learn about what occurred in the original reports of his speech. Only later, after the fact, in news reports with much smaller readership and audiences than the original report or footage.
But there is more to this report:
Mitt also pitched a fit just minutes before the broadcast and refused to come out unless the Spanish language network re-taped the introduction, said Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas.
“It was a very awkward moment, believe me,” Salinas told BuzzFeed.com.
Romney was apparently upset because co-anchor Jorge Ramos mentioned that Romney had agree to give them 35 minutes while Obama pledged an hour to answer questions the next night, Salinas said.
There was no immediate response to Salinas’ claims from the Romney campaign, but she is a heavy hitter and one of the most influential Spanish-language broadcasters in the country.
Obama holds a big lead over his Republican rival with Hispanic voters and Romney was keen to make inroads with that key voting block.
Salinas said both campaigns were given tickets to Wednesday’s forum, which was held at the University of Miami.
But while the Obama campaign had no problem filling the seats with student supporters, Team Romney could not find enough Republicans on campus.
Facing the prospect of empty seats, the Romney campaign told the network that if they weren’t allowed to bring in outsiders they might have to “reschedule,” Salinas said.
Forum organizers relented and allowed Romney organizers to bus in activists who ignored instructions to hold their applause and clapped wildly for their candidate.
By contrast, Obama’s student supporters appeared subdued because they followed the rules, Salinas said.
On one hand, it resulted in maximizing the staging for the Romney campaign and these little details did not come out until the report via Buzzfeed, a great political site but still not the same as The Washington Post, The New York Times, or the major broadcast news networks.
On the other hand, this is the second time the Romney campaign is being accused of stacking the audience which could eventually be a factoid mentioned in mainstream media reports — most assuredly destined to be mentioned again if there is a third instance.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.