It was the kind of harsh question a Republican presidential contender could face on a Sunday morning talk program, only the guy asking it was 15 years old. Quinn Mitchell wants to know if Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis thought former President Donald J. Trump breached the peaceful transfer of office on January 6, 2021.
Video of Mr. DeSantis’ awkward conversation at a town hall meeting in Hollis, N.H., on June 27 has ricocheted online. The pair’s next meeting was during a July 4 parade in Merrimack, New Hampshire, when a video showed Quinn, an aspiring journalist, being shooed away by a handler for Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
But the adolescent said he was unprepared for what happened on Friday when he was momentarily expelled from the First in the Nation Leadership Summit, a candidate showcase hosted by the New Hampshire Republican Party. Mr. DeSantis and the majority of the Republican field attended the two-day event in Nashua, N.H., but not Mr. Trump.
“They said, ‘We know who you are,'” Quinn, who runs his own political blog and podcast, said in a phone interview from his home in Walpole, New Hampshire, on Saturday.
Quinn, who was granted a guest pass for the summit by the state GOP, said a person connected with the event informed him he had a history of being disruptive and accused him of being a tracker, a sort of political operator who tracks competitor candidates.
Quinn claimed that the next thing he remembered, he was being brought to a private room and being escorted out of the Sheraton Nashua hotel by local police officers. The Boston Globe was the first to report about his dismissal.
In a text message on Saturday, Jimmy Thompson, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire Republican Party, claimed the teen’s removal was an error.
“During the course of the two-day event, an overzealous volunteer mistakenly made the decision to have Quinn removed from the event, thinking he was a Democrat tracker,” Mr. Thompson stated in a statement. “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.”
Bryan Griffin, a spokesperson for the DeSantis campaign, responded in an email on Sunday morning, “We were not involved in that decision.”
On Saturday, a public information officer for the Nashua Police Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Quinn has attended more than 80 presidential campaign events since he was 10, taking advantage of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation standing in the nomination process to ask candidates questions.
He said he wants to hear former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speak on Friday, as well as businessman Perry Johnson, a long-shot contender.
Quinn had posed another hard question during a town hall featuring Mr. Christie in April: Would Hillary Clinton have been a better president than Mr. Trump?
Mr. Christie, the former president’s most vocal adversary in the Republican Party, said that he would have voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, calling the election “the biggest hold-your-nose-and-vote choice” the American people had ever had.
Two months later, it was Mr. DeSantis’ turn to answer a Quinn question, this time concerning Mr. Trump’s behavior on January 6.
“Are you still in high school?” Mr. DeSantis has been chastised as a candidate for not being flexible when talking with voters and media, resulting in some awkward confrontations on the campaign trail.
The governor of Florida shifted his position, claiming that if the 2024 race is centered on “relitigating things that happened two, three years ago, we’re going to lose.”
Quinn stated that it did not appear to be a coincidence that he was escorted out of the event on Friday, just prior to Mr. DeSantis’s speech, which he had planned to miss.
“They know the story between me and DeSantis,” he told me.
Quinn said he was able to catch Mr. DeSantis’ speech by the time he was permitted to return to the event. Quinn departed when the governor opened it up for questions.
“OK, one quick question, what do you get?” Mr. DeSantis inquired of a member of the crowd.