TAMPA — The Massachusetts delegation to the Republican National Convention is certainly in the spotlight because of former governor Mitt Romney. Those trying to track the delegation, however, may be left in the dark.
The delegation is largely sealed off from the media because it is being housed in the same hotel as Romney.
Law enforcement officials were ordered to refuse admittance to the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina after 6 p.m. Sunday to anyone who is not a guest in an effort to maintain building security, an official with the Massachusetts GOP said.
Refusing admittance for TV, radio, and print reporters from Massachusetts not only inhibits conversations with the 79-member delegation, it blocks coverage of two morning breakfasts where reporters typically listen as the delegates are addressed by newsmakers.
On Monday, they are scheduled to hear from Massachusetts Republican Party chairman Robert Maginn, state committeeman and senior Romney adviser Ron Kaufman, and former lieutenant governor and current senior campaign adviser Kerry Healey.
On Tuesday, they are slated to be addressed by other senior Romney campaign staff. There has also been talk of the group hearing from Senator Scott Brown, who is scheduled to attend Thursday’s convention session.
And it may mean that only a small pool of traveling campaign reporters get to hear from Romney if, as expected, he meets with his homestate delegation sometime before formally accepting the nomination for president on Thursday night.
The control on hotel access will have a secondary effect, too: shielding the Romney family, the Romney campaign staff, and some of the campaign’s top supporters from media scrutiny or interaction while they are in their convention housing. Romney himself favored tight security when he was governor from 2003 to 2007.
He entered and exited his State House office behind velvet ropes that led to an elevator locked down for his exclusive use.
He also employed aides who wore Secret Service-style ear pieces to plot his movements and shield him from reporters.
Representatives of the Romney campaign did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.
Tim Buckley, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party, said in a statement: “Access to some of the delegation’s events may be restricted due to the Secret Service’s security perimeter.”