Much has been made out of the overzealous audience participation in Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, and I admit I was terribly annoyed at their constant interruptions and I tweeted this.
The South Carolina audience is really freaking annoying tonight. #GOPDebate
— JohnAmato (@JohnAmato) February 14, 2016
This is a very unusual election cycle on the Republican side, and audiences have been highlighted before during Republican debates, most notably the one in 2011, where a question was posed by a Vietnam vet, who asked the candidates if they supported the use to torture. To the surprised of many of us, the audience cheered then on when some of the candidates agreed to use waterboarding.
It was a shocking moment, but also explains why a man like Donald Trump is the solid leader at this point. Flash forward to Saturday night, when the crowd erupted with constant cheers whenever Jeb Bush, Marco Roboto and John Kasich talked. But as I'm sure you noticed, they were very hostile to Donald Trump. The booing and catcalling got so bad that Trump actually called out the audience over their behavior.
TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong. Jeb is absolutely self -- just so you understand, you know what that is? That's Jeb's special interest and lobbyist talking.
Lindsey Graham, who backs him, had zero on his polls. Let me just say something -- we've spent -- we've spent.
I only tell the truth, lobbyists.
That was a very funny moment in the debate, but not for Trump. The Republican establishment has made no secret about how much they dislike Trump and Cruz and are very worried they will take down the GOP. After over twenty conservative pundits along with the NRO came out against Trump that's had had no effect on the race and it appears the RNC is now directly trying to influence the voters at home, watching these debates.
It turns out this may not be that far-fetched. Prior to the debate, the Republican Party decided not to use a lottery system to decide who should be in the audience. Instead, most tickets went to elected Republican officials, donors, and other workers for the party picked by local, state, and national party officials. The result, it seems, is the room was packed with Republican voters who overwhelmingly dislike Trump.
Corey Davis reported for local news station WYFF 4:
[Greenville County Republican Party Chair Chad] Groover said supporters who work hard for the party will be rewarded tickets.
People selected will fill the 1,900 seats that have been made available for the event, according to Groover.
Groover said the Republican National Committee gives a lot of tickets to supporters. He said more are then allocated for the state party to distribute among the county chairs.
"I didn't have hundreds of tickets. I had a couple of dozen tickets," said Groover.
Groover said he gave tickets to supporters, including elected officials, who work hard for the party.
"You'll have a good mix of people who are donors, people who are donors and workers, and people who are just workers," said Groover.
Alex Swoyer reported the ticket breakdown for Breitbart News, noting that most of the audience was picked by local, state, and national party officials:
Breitbart News learned from RNC’s Chief Strategist and Communications Director, Sean Spicer, that the Peace Center in Greenville holds roughly 1600 seats. Out of those 1600 seats, candidates received 600 tickets to invite their guests.
The state party and locally elected officials received 550, while the RNC, including nationally elected officials, received 367 tickets.
The debate partners, CBS News, the Peace Center, and Google received 100 tickets.
The Republican establishment opposes Trump, and it clearly prefers Bush and Rubio to Trump. And the establishment, along with anti-Trump candidates, got to choose most of the audience on Saturday night. So Trump got booed, again and again, while everyone else got cheers.
Trump needs to take his ire out at the RNC and demand that they stop interfering in the debate process. It is very odd that the RNC is ratf*cking their leading candidate, but that's what they are doing.
It's time he demands a stop to this or he'll file a second lawsuit against Reince Priebus' outfit after he files against Ted Cruz.