One of the key individuals involved with ticket allocation for Thursday’s Republican debate is Mitt Romney’s niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel.
McDaniel, the Michigan Republican state chair, was part of an elite group tasked with dispensing tickets to Fox News’ presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan. The Republican National Committee allocated 400 tickets to the state party, but only 50 of them will go to the public.
Michigan GOP spokeswoman Sarah Anderson told the Detroit News on Thursday that attempts would be made to give out additional tickets to the public if officials decide not to attend.
“If we have people that are turning them down among our elected officials, then we’ll add that number,” Anderson told the newspaper. “We want to give out as many as we can. We know that people are excited and want to be there.”
Roughly 21,000 people requested tickets for the event.
News of McDaniel’s ticket allocation responsibilities, which was first reported by the website DC Whispers, came on the same day her uncle excoriated Republican front-runner Donald Trump in front of a national audience.
“Let me put it very plainly: If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished,” the former Massachusetts governor told a crowd at the University of Utah in Salk Lake City. “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud, his promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers.”
Trump responded later in the day by calling Romney a “choke artist” for his failed 2012 presidential campaign.
“When I heard Mitt was going to run, I said he can’t run – he’s a choke artist. We cannot take another loss. He is a choke artist – I have never seen such a choke artist, other than Rubio,” the billionaire said during a campaign stop in Portland, Maine.
Trump last faced a hostile crowd due to stacking during the Republican Party’s Feb. 13 debate in South Carolina. Candidates had to split up 600 seats among themselves, while the RNC and nationally elected officials received 367 tickets. State party and locally elected officials received 550 tickets. Google was given 100 tickets.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh said that excessive booing and jeering was the result of an orchestrated attack.
“[Trump] didn’t even have to say anything. He just opened his mouth, a couple of syllables and here came the boos. And it did appear to distract him off the point that he was getting ready to make,” said Limbaugh Feb. 15, WND reported. “I’ve never seen anything like that, that I can recall watching intraparty debates. I’ve never seen it on the Democrat side. I mean, I’ve heard a smattering of boos, but I’ve not seen a whole audience stacked for the expressed purpose. And it was done specifically to make it look like no Republicans in South Carolina like Trump.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will face off tonight at 9 p.m. EST at the Fox Theatre. Fox News’ Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace will moderate. The event will be broadcast on Fox News and livestreamed at FoxNews.com.