Mitt Romney made a rare appearance in Pennsylvania last night, which by most accounts was well attended, but the event was not without difficulties.
Many in the crowd, though, didn’t stay to hear Romney’s speech. Attendees streamed out of the event even as the Republican nominee spoke – he had been delayed for more than an hour and a half at his previous stop, in Cleveland, leaving the thousands in Pennsylvania to wait for his campaign bus to arrive.
After Romney arrived, a Secret Service agent, concerned about security, prevented people from leaving the event, cordoned off by metal security barriers. Attendees complained of needing to use restrooms; one was concerned about a child who had gotten too cold.
Once Romney campaign staffers were informed, volunteers began escorting small groups of people out. Agents insisted that they not be allowed to leave en masse. More people wanted to leave than could be quickly accommodated.
The AP quoted one man as he was finally permitted to leave, “I feel like I’ve been let out of jail.”
Now that’s what a campaign wants to hear from a voter as he leaves a rally, right?
Another voter told a reporter from USA Today that his son was “on the verge of hypothermia,” but Romney staffers were still reluctant to let attendees leave. A New York Times reporter heard a mom pleading with event staff to let her and her daughter leave – “We’ve got to get out; my daughter is frostbitten,” she said – only to have a Romney staffer reply, “It’s not cold enough for that.”