It doesn't surprise me that the campaign of Mitt Romney, a man with a tremendous sense of self-importance and entitlement, would consider it acceptable to demand a suspension of pre-established ground rules at this week's Univision forum. What surprises me is that the campaign apparently did so in such a boorish and lead-footed way that a high-profile and very influential media figure was willing to call him out on the record:
... When [Mitt Romney] took his place Wednesday night in the first of two back-to-back candidate forums televised on [Univision], he was greeted by an adoring, raucous crowd that cheered his every word, and booed many of the moderators' questions. The next night, President Obama was treated to stone cold silence from the audience as he was aggressively grilled on his lackluster immigration record.Romney also demanded a re-recording of the introduction to his interview -- a demand made at the last minute, when it was difficult, backed by a threat that he'd withdraw from the forum altogether. (I would have let him go, but Univision clearly has more patience than I do.)
... But the enthusiasm gap may have been an optical illusion formed by a series of last-minute demands by the Romney campaign, according to Maria Elena Salinas, one of the Univision anchors who moderated the forums.
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.
... 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....
Salinas said both candidates ultimately had partisan crowds at their forums, but that Romney's non-student activists ignored instructions to hold their applause.
"We were a little bit thrown because it was supposed to be a TV show, it wasn't a rally," Salinas said of the outspoken Romney supporters. "It was a little bit of disrespect for us."
Maria Elena Salinas is the co-anchor of Univision's nightly news as well as the channel's Aqui y Ahora newsmagazine, which makes her the Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer of Latin America -- and of Spanish speakers in this country. Romney is trying to increase his vote total among Hispanic voters, so he really shouldn't be ticking off influential Latin American media figures. But he's ticked her off enough that she's exposing what his campaign did for attribution, not as an anonymous source.
But that's Romney and his team, right? The campaign staff forgets that all media outlets aren't like Fox News, which (at least now that he has the nomination) wants him to succeed as much as he and his staff do.
And Romney, the former corporate boss, forgets that the people at Univision aren't his employees -- they aren't people who have to respond to his demands by doing what he wants without a peep of protest, because he can fire them at will. At the office, you don't openly bad-mouth your boss; Romney doesn't realize that this isn't the office, and he isn't the boss of anyone.