A 15-year-old aspiring journalist who had a viral encounter with the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, earlier this year was escorted out of a Republican political event by armed police after he was accused of being a Democratic operative.
Quinn Mitchell – a politics enthusiast who has attended more than 80 presidential campaign events – said he was given a credential to the First in the Nation Leadership Summit, an event organized by the New Hampshire Republican party.
After arriving on Friday, Mitchell watched a speech by Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who is running for president. Mitchell – who is from New Hampshire – then prepared to watch Perry Johnson, a longshot Republican candidate.
But he was prevented from doing so.
“This woman comes up to me, I don’t know who she is, but she says to me: ‘I know who you are, you’re a tracker,’” Mitchell said on his podcast.
A tracker is a political operative who records rival candidates. Mitchell, who is not a tracker, was then escorted into a room at the Sheraton Nashua hotel, where the event was being held. The woman, who Mitchell said was a Republican official, was joined by a man, and the pair accused Mitchell of having misrepresented himself to gain access.
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“She tells me: ‘You’ve been a disturbance and have been known to be one. We have had to physically remove you from two other events before, and we will do it again,’” Mitchell said.
After that, Mitchell was walked out of the hotel by multiple police officers, he said. The Boston Globe corroborated his story.
Mitchell said he had only been watching the speeches. But he suspects that his previous two interactions with Republican presidential hopeful DeSantis, who was due to speak that afternoon, were the reason he was ejected.
One of those encounters came in June. Mitchell asked DeSantis at a political event in Hollis, New Hampshire, whether Donald Trump “violated the peaceful transfer of power” when the former president attempted to subvert the results of his 2020 election defeat.
Footage of DeSantis’s awkward non-answer to the question was shared online. A month later, Mitchell was physically restrained by DeSantis’s private security contractors at a Fourth of July parade, the Daily Beast reported, after he attempted to speak to the Florida governor.
Asked about Mitchell being ejected from the summit, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign told the New York Times: “We were not involved in that decision.”
A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Republican party told the Washington Post that Mitchell had been removed from the event in error.
“An overzealous volunteer mistakenly made the decision to have Quinn removed from the event, thinking he was a Democrat tracker,” the spokesperson said. “Once the incident came to our staff’s attention, NHGOP let him back into the event, where he was free to enjoy the rest of the summit.”