TAMPA - As I walk through the secure zone around the Republican National Convention hall and media workspace, I feel the constant need to say to people, “Folks, my eyes are up HERE.”
I do so because everyone from the heavily armed security guards to the volunteers who point you in the right direction has a singular focus: looking at my chest.
They’re not gawkers, but people wanting to ensure I have the appropriate credential hanging from the lanyard around my neck.
It’s a redundant exercise, because you cannot get within four blocks of either building without having the credential at the initial checkpoints. But even once you are well within the inner security rings, the checks continue.
As Daniel Bongino, a former Secret Service agent now running for the US Senate in Maryland, told the Globe on Monday, the repetition is necessary because discretion is the enemy of security.
If you check everyone, all the time, you miss no one, ever. If you start making exceptions, you might.
The focus on credentials hints at their social status within the temporary community of the convention campus. I’m sure it’s much the same at the Olympics or Super Bowls, though I have never been to either.
Every reporter has a base credential getting them into the media workspace, but then there are different - and fewer - ones required to get into the convention hall and fewer still needed to get onto the convention floor itself.
There are also special credentials to get up into the areas used by TV and radio crews, and one solely for guests of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, where presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney is staying.
And none of those get you in to the CNN Grill.
The bulk of the 15,000 journalists on site have a weeklong pass getting them into the Tampa Convention Center, their temporary workspace.
But virtually everyone going into the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the speeches themselves are occurring, must have a different - and additional - pass each day. They are numbered for the days of the week, with “2” being the operative ones today, the second day of the workweek.
Bongino’s former colleagues at the Secret Service add another layer of protection by changing the color of the passes each day. That way, if someone misses you trying to use a No. 1 Monday pass on No. 2 Tuesday, they’re likely to catch their mistake when they spot the different colors between the two days.
Today’s floor passes are baby blue, but don’t think you can get by with a simple color copier.
Today, a half-block before I entered the convention center, a woman reached out to grab my lanyard and inspect not just the front but the back of the credential hanging in front of my chest.
She was looking for fakes.
I felt so violated.