Bret Baier of Fox News observed after the GOP debate in South Carolina on Saturday night: “The crowd, clearly, was anti-Trump.”
Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump had plenty of cheers, but many more boos, over the course of the evening. As he did in New Hampshire, Trump blamed the response on Jeb Bush’s supporters, “special interests,” and “lobbyists” in the audience.
Party insiders and donors usually do have the inside track to debate tickets.
Breitbart News’ Alex Swoyer reported on Friday that the audience was heavily stacked towards the party establishment:
Breitbart News learned from RNC’s Chief Strategist and Communications Director, Sean Spicer, that the Peace Center in Greenville holds roughly 1600 seats. Out of those 1600 seats, candidates received 600 tickets to invite their guests.
The state party and locally elected officials received 550, while the RNC, including nationally elected officials, received 367 tickets.
The debate partners, CBS News, the Peace Center, and Google received 100 tickets.
Analysts differed on whether the boos hurt or helped Trump–but jeers in previous debates did not seem to damage him much.