DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado student faced misdemeanor charges on Wednesday for flinging glitter toward Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney in an increasingly frequent protest act some commentators say should be subject to prosecution.
The practice of “glitter bombing” has mainly been the domain of gay rights activists targeting Republican politicians and other public figures who oppose same-sex marriage.
But University of Colorado Boulder student Peter Smith, 20, told Reuters he threw glitter at Romney after the candidate’s speech in Colorado on Tuesday to protest against his “general political philosophy,” and not only his stance on gay marriage.
A CNN video of the incident shows Romney shaking hands with supporters in an auditorium when the glitter is thrown at him and Secret Service agents usher him away.
Smith was escorted out by other agents and local authorities, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said.
Denver authorities detained Smith for questioning on Tuesday night, and he was cited on misdemeanor charges of creating a disturbance, throwing a missile and an unlawful act on school property, Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said.
Smith, who faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted, said he has no regrets about his protest.
Republican presidential contenders Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have all been targeted with glitter, although authorities could not immediately say if anyone had previously been charged over the glitter-throwing.
When former Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty was struck with glitter in June 2011, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican, argued in an appearance on cable network Fox Business that “people ought to be arrested” for throwing glitter, which he called “an assault.”
Huckabee added, “You’ve got to draw the line.”
Ogilvie would not say if the Secret Service sees glitter bombing as a pressing problem. “We want to make sure everything is a safe and secure environment,” he said.
But Smith said agents talked to him about his protest action. “They just mentioned this act was an issue that they’ve been trying to deal with more and more,” he said.
Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston