Salinas told BuzzFeed that tickets for each forum were divided between the network, the respective campaigns, and the University of Miami (which hosted the events) — and she said both campaigns initially agreed to keep the audience comprised mostly of students, in keeping with the events’ education theme.
But after exhausting the few conservative groups on campus, the Romney camp realized there weren’t enough sympathetic students to fill the stands on their night — so they told the network and university that if they weren’t given an exemption to the students-only rule, they might have to “reschedule.”
The organizers relented. One Democrat with ties to the Obama campaign noted that Rudy Fernandez, the university official charged with coordinating the forums, is a member of Romney’s Hispanic steering committee. Fernandez did not respond to BuzzFeed’s questions about whether he gave preferential treatment to Romney’s campaign.
In any case, Romney’s team was allowed to bus in rowdy activists from around southern Florida in order to fill the extra seats at their town hall.
Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, stuck to the original parameters and allowed a large chunk of the tickets to be distributed to interested students on campus. The result was a quiet, well-behaved crowd — and a lot of no-shows. Minutes before Obama’s forum was to begin, producers began frantically directing university staff and volunteers to sit in the empty seats.
From a national campaign view, should we understand this as an example of the Romney campaign’s superior tactical skill, as showing Team Obama’s greater honesty, or both?
From a local perspective, I think Mr. Rudy Fernandez, or whoever else was in charge, should be willing to answer reasonable questions from the press about the logistics and whether the University was even-handed or not.
(And I guess I should have gone to see Obama even though Univision wouldn’t give me a press pass.)