Several reporters covering Mitt Romney described being blocked from a rope line on Wednesday and prevented from asking the candidate questions at a St. Petersburg, Fla., event.
The AP's Kasie Hunt tweeted that "campaign staff and volunteers trying to physically prevent reporters from approaching the rope line to ask questions of Romney."
"Romney campaign aide trying to block reporters from rope line now," tweeted The New York Times' Michael Barbaro. "Reporters refuse to leave."
"This was an error on the part of the campaign staff and volunteers," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told The Huffington Post. "We have reminded them that press is allowed on the rope line to record the governor’s interactions with voters."
Romney largely shies away from questions shouted by reporters at campaign events, opting instead for formal press exchanges. But Romney campaign staffers have at times encouraged reporters to approach the candidate at the rope line when they want him to weigh in on some budding issue or controversy, as ABC News recently noted.
In late March, when news broke about the Trayvon Martin killing, Romney at first told reporters that he had already commented on the topic on a radio station, and wouldn’t do so again for cameras. When those reporters argued that an on-camera statement would really be best for the television networks, Romney could be seen consulting with his communications staff behind his parked motorcade.
Romney then re-appeared, an advance staffer handing him a microphone and the candidate allowing reporters to ask the question about Martin and giving himself the opportunity to go on the record -- on camera -- on the controversial case ...
And last month, when reporters asked staff members whether the candidate would respond to the controversy surrounding women being allowed to join the Augusta National Golf Club, they were allowed to approach the rope line, where Romney was expecting the question. As the music that traditionally is blasted to the degree that little is heard of Romney’s interactions with supporters he greets was lowered, Romney looked straight at the cameras and
answered the question.
Romney spokeswoman Saul did not comment on tweets suggesting that Secret Service personnel may also have prevented reporters from approaching the rope line.