CORAL SPRINGS, Fla.—Three members of Herman Cain’s campaign team apologized on Wednesday after a local police officer who said he was there to protect the Republican presidential candidate manhandled a reporter.
The incident happened when several journalists who have been covering Cain regularly tried to film the candidate as he was returning to his campaign bus after an event here. As the journalists trailed Cain, the officer, who was in plain clothes, blindsided National Journal/CBS News reporter Lindsey Boerma into the side of the campaign bus. Moments later, as journalists circled around the bus toward Cain, the same man stuck his arm out and clotheslined Boerma.
The man refused to identify himself. He implied he was a police officer when he suggested that one of his “buddies” in uniform could give the reporter a ride in the back of a police car. When other journalists began videotaping him, he pulled out his cell phone and started recording the press. “I’m an independent reporter,” he said.
Afterwards, Lt. Joe McHugh of the Coral Springs Police Department identified the man as one of his officers and defended his actions. “The reporter was running up along the side of the bus with no identification on identifying herself as a reporter,” McHugh said. “So the officer stuck his arm out to prevent her from getting to Mr. Cain and at which time he was successful.”
Boerma was not wearing press tags but was carrying a video camera with a plainly visible CBS decal. She is a member of a team of reporters covering the presidential candidates for National Journal and CBS News.
McHugh said the officer, Sgt. William Reid, suffered a hyperextended elbow.
This is not the first time journalists have been roughed up while covering Cain. On Tuesday, a Washington Post writer reported being shoved by the candidate’s bodyguards. As Cain has risen in the polls and become the center of heightened scrutiny, his campaign has struggled to control the sometimes overzealous crowds he attracts. Campaign spokesman JD Gordon, who witnessed part of the incident, said the campaign is "reviewing our own internal security procedures and we will work closely with our state directors and local hosts and security to ensure that we can protect the candidate and staff while at the same time avoiding incidents like the one today.”
Gordon, who along with several colleagues called Boerma to apologize after the incident, said she did not do anything wrong. “She did not, but other reporters have in the past,” he said. “So the police just did what they had to do given the crowd size and the pace of event so I wouldn’t fault anybody. Hopefully, we can have more clarity moving forward.”
National Journal Editor in Chief Ron Fournier said: “Lindsey and dozens of reporters from other news organizations are covering the Cain campaign thoroughly and professionally, and they deserve no less professional treatment from those involved in campaign events.”
Lindsey Boerma and Ron Fournier contributed