GOP Debate: Drawn by Donald Trump, Throngs of Reporters Descend on Reagan Library

Ben Carson in the middle of the media scrum at Reagan Library.

More than 800 members of the media applied for credentials to cover CNN's GOP debate, where even single-digit candidates were swarmed like major stars.

It seems everything involving Donald Trump is outsized. His income. His ego. And now the throngs of reporters who are turning out to see the Republican frontrunner’s performance at the GOP debates.

Hundreds of reporters — from tiny blogs to major networks —descended on Simi Valley Wednesday to cover CNN’s debate at the Reagan Library.

Inundated with more than 800 requests for credentials, the network built a large white tent, outfitted with 15 big screen TVs and enough electrical outlets to power a small city, to accommodate at least half of the requests. Members of the Reagan Library Foundation pitched in to find other spots in the building for other journalists.

John Fredericks, a syndicated radio talk show host on WNTW in Chester, Virginia, set up his booth on a balcony above CNN’s “Spin Room.”

”I came all the way out here to California because Donald Trump is making this an interesting race,” Fredericks said. “Absent of Trump, would I have come out here to see Jeb Bush and Scott Walker? I doubt it. I would have stayed home and watched it on TV and filed the next morning. Trump has not only turned this race, he has turned the way people view the Washington political establishment. He’s the driver not only of this campaign but of an attitude change in the people following it.”

Concert producer Simon Sidi, who is organizing the Politicon convention in Los Angeles in October, marveled at the throng of reporters covering the debate. While Trump may have been the main attraction, the journalists were still swarming around other candidates—sometimes just to ask about Trump.

“I couldn’t get anywhere near Bobby Jindal,” Sidi complained. Meanwhile, it took Ben Carson, circled by several dozen reporters and photographers, nearly 20 minutes to walk just a few steps in the “Spin Room.”

”It doesn’t matter if it’s Hollywood or politics,” Sidi said. “Everyone acts exactly the same when a star enters the room.”

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