Paul (Stephan Savoia/AP)
MANCHESTER, N.H.--Politics can be dangerous business sometimes--especially when you're being shadowed by a giant crowd of media professionals carrying heavy cameras and trying to capture your every move.
Ron Paul cut short his handshaking with voters Monday morning here at MoeJoe's Restaurant after the throngs of journalists trailing the Texas congressman effectively crowded out many of the campaign's staffers and restaurant workers and customers on the scene. The New Hampshire natives in the latter group, of course, were the people that Paul and his staff were supposed to be reaching out to.
At one point, a sound operator fell into Paul's back, nearly knocking him over, prompting the candidate to complain, "there's no need for that."
"This is really chaotic!" Meagan Garvey, a high school student from Massachusetts, told Yahoo News. Garvey was struck by a falling reporter who was frantically trying to keep up with Paul as he made his brief lap around the room. The reporter turned to Garvey to say "thanks for catching me" before extricating herself from Garvey's lap. "She kinda hit me in the face," Garvey said. "But I left it alone."
Garvey pointed out that another person had discarded a tripod near her table, which probably caused the reporter to trip.
The waitresses at Moe Joe's weren't anywhere as demure as they high-school student. "Enough! Go around!" they shouted at reporters attempting to enter a room by traveling through their work area. "Coming through with food!" another waitress said as the assembled reporters jostled in their narrow available space in order to let her pass by with a large tray of breakfast fare.
Paul was scheduled to spend 45 minutes making his way through the multi-room restaurant, but instead spent just 15 minutes shaking hands. Most of the people he ended up meeting happened to be 60 to 70 fellow students Garvey's Massachusetts high school. Since that group was from out of state--and also, in many instances, under the legal voting age--the visit was far from a triumph in retail politics for the Paul campaign.
Paul largely blew by the media gaggle outside the event, apart from giving a few brief answers to questions from Fox News' Bret Baier.
Customer Karen Heller yelled at Paul's SUV, telling reporters she was angry that Paul had left so suddenly, especially after her 90-year old mother had made the trip and had been waiting patiently for a chance to speak with Paul.
CNN's Dana Bash asked Paul about cutting out early from the morning's event later during an exclusive interview at a town hall in Hollis, N.H. He blamed the press--and in a gesture that seemed designed to bring the point home, proceeded to walk off the CNN interview.
Update 4:25 p.m. ET: Paul's national campaign chairman said in a statement that Paul was "forced" to leave Moe Joe's after over 120 reporters-- including a "influx" of foreign journalists-- created an "unsafe" environment, adding that Paul's wife was "shoved aside" by a reporter. "On behalf of Dr. Paul and his campaign team, I would like to apologize to customers at Moe Joe's who may have been distressed by this incident, and extend our gratitude and apologies to the owners, who were kind enough to have us," Benton said. "We ask the press, at all upcoming events over the next day and a half, to be respectful of both Dr. Paul and of New Hampshire voters, who are entitled to examine their candidates in a safe and responsible atmosphere."
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