At tonight’s debate, we can expect an audience stacked with loyal Republican party supporters chosen by the GOP establishment.
Apparently, over 25,000 people had applied for tickets to tonight’s GOP debate in Greenville, South Carolina, but the debate’s venue – the Peace Center – will only hold an audience of 1,900 people. Instead of awarding tickets through a lottery, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the South Carolina Republican Party decided to give tickets to loyal party supporters. According to Greenville County Republican Party Chairman Chad Groover, only those who work for the party, who make generous donations to the party, or who are elected officials – or some combination thereof – will be attending tonight’s debate, which will air at 9:00 PM EST. WYFF reported:
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.
Groover is encouraging everyone to come out and volunteer for the party they support.
“I think not for the motive of getting debate tickets but for the motive of producing a better society I think getting involved in the political process makes sense,” said Groover.
Groover said some tickets might become available if people cancel but he said there is no guarantee.
Former Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio , who is often described as “telegenic,” are both seen as establishment favorites. Real estate mogul Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz are seen as outsiders and “anti-establishment.” We can expect cheers whenever either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio makes a point, and jeers whenever Donald Trump or Ted Cruz makes a point. If there happens to be a few supporters of Trump or Cruz in the audience who try to cheer and applaud for their candidate, the establishment supporters will likely drown them out with chants of “USA! USA!”
This certainly isn’t the first time party leaders have stacked the debate audiences. In the last GOP debate in New Hampshire on February 7th, GOP leaders wanted the audience stacked with those who were staunchly anti-Trump. Thomas Madison with Powdered Wig Society opined:
ABC’s Saturday night GOP presidential debate was disgusting! Not because of anything ABC did or did not do, they actually did a commendable job, but rather the audience, which booed Donald Trump repeatedly, and which was chock full of establishment Republicans and their donors. The last thing they want to see is a President Trump and the end of their gravy train.
Well-known political strategist and pundit, Roger Stone, tweeted Saturday, “The HOUSE is stacked – Trump Camp given ONLY 20 tickets – RNC Donors PURCHASED TICKETS.”
As Trump countered Bush’s claims and the exchange became heated, the audience booed Trump loudly several times. Trump then turned his attention to the crowd, clearly stacked with anti-Trump establishment Republicans and their donors, emphasizing as he pointed to the audience, “That’s all of his (Jeb’s) donors and special interests out there. That’s what it is. And by the way, let me just tell you, we needed tickets. You can’t get them. You know who has the tickets? Donors, special interests, the people that are putting up the money.” Trump added, “The RNC told us we have all donors in the audience.” The crowd booed again, confirming Trump’s assertion.
Even though the Grand Old Party bill themselves as a “big tent” party, nothing could be further from the truth.