Despite the official Secret Service explanation, Courtney Scott, Treasurer of the Missouri College Republicans, told National Review that she’s skeptical she and a small group of College Republican were turned away from President Obama’s speech Wednesday at the University of Central Missouri because the event had reached capacity.
“So far I can tell, they were not at capacity if there were people leaving and people with tickets who didn’t even get in. I find it very difficult to believe the whole place was already full,” Scott said.
After protesting on the other side of campus in a designated “public speech zone,” she and a group of five other College Republicans traveled across campus, without their protest signs, to watch the speech.
At about 3:40 p.m., an individual, whom Scott believes to have been a police officer because of his clothing, which included a hat emblazoned with the letters “PD,” stopped the group short of the gymnasium where Obama was scheduled to speak. He told them that they would not be able to proceed further. The group showed him their tickets, but the man said the doors had already closed and that they could not be let in.
The tickets stated that the doors opened at 1:45 p.m. and did not state when the doors were scheduled to close. President Obama was scheduled to begin speaking at 4:00. However, Scott said that Air Force One did not arrive at Whiteman Air Force Base, which is located 15 minutes away, until 4:15. President Obama did not begin speaking until around 5:00.
According to Scott, the security officer said the lack of a stated door-closing time on the tickets was also a security measure.
After speaking with the officer, Scott said, “They made us leave the entire area.”
Scott said the group watched the speech in the overflow capacity viewing room.
According to Scott, the event was supposed to be able to hold 2,500 people and only 2,500 tickets were given out. The fact that the group had several extra tickets (ten College Republicans had originally hoped to make the speech, but four cancelled) “kind of implies there was room,” she said. In addition, Scott spoke to a gentleman in the viewing room who had gained access to the event but had left because of the heat and the wait.
The College Fix reported Wednesday that a few people succumbed to heat exhaustion and that multiple people had left the event.
Scott confirmed that the group was identifiable by its attire. Scott says she was wearing a Missouri College Republicans shirt, another member of the group wore a University of Central Missouri College Republicans shirt, one wore a shirt with the Republican elephant, and the fourth member had a tea-party-type shirt with “don’t tread on me” on it. The final two members of the group were wearing blazers.
“It was really easy to see, looking at our clothing, how we identified,” Scott told NRO.
While the group was trying to decide what to do after being turned away, the officer told the group that “This has nothing to do with whether you’re a Republican or Democrat.” She said she did not remember the exact words of the rest of the officer’s statement, but that he told them that it was for the president’s protection and security purposes.
When asked if she thinks their partisan affiliation did actually play a role in their being turned away, Scott demurred.
“I don’t want to make allegations, I don’t have enough proof behind it. Do I think I can know if it was for partisan reasons? No, I don’t think so. But do I think it was enough to at least be suspicious? Definitely.”
Scott said that she intends to protest another one of President Obama’s speeches if the opportunity presents itself, and she will happily bring a sign and wear her Missouri College Republicans shirt. She’d even like to hear the speech next time.
“I would still like to hear from him in person,” she said.