The Romney-Ryan campaign suffered a blow today over allegations of another staged photo op, its second in three weeks in the crucial swing state of Ohio.
Buzzfeed quotes an anonymous staffer as saying the Romney campaign purchased $5,000 worth of merchandise at an area Wal-Mart to serve as props in a hastily-planned “Relief Rally.” The original plan was to change a previously-planned “Victory Rally” into a “Relief Rally” to benefit those affected by Hurricane Sandy. However, the campaign faced a challenge in pulling off the switch in short notice and instead relied on prop donations paid for by the campaign itself. Buzzfeed writes:
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)
Opinions differed on the event. The Wall Street Journal covered the same rally, but did not mention the alleged purchase and instead quoted Romney complimenting the “American spirit” of the attendees.
If true, the revelation would be another black eye for the Republican Presidential ticket and comes on the heel of another widely-panned faux photo op. in Mid-October, Ryan reportedly washed pots that had already been cleaned at a soup kitchen in Youngstown, Ohio. The Washington Post quoted the charity’s president as saying Ryan “did nothing” in the soup kitchen and had arrived well after the needy had been fed.
Ohio is a hotly-contested battleground state in this year’s presidential election. A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Halloween day showed incumbent Barack Obama with a 50-45 lead, while Romney was seen to be closing the gap in fellow swing states Virginia and Florida.