Romney Packed Crowd With Backers: Gingrich Reps Florida GOP says 'rank-and-file' got tickets to Jacksonville debate By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Jan 27, 2012 10:00 AM CST 11 comments Comments Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Newser) – Mitt Romney enjoyed a favorable audience last night ... because his campaign loaded the hall with supporters, Newt Gingrich aides tell the Huffington Post. "They definitely packed the room," said a top adviser. Another staffer called the situation "obvious," noting, "I was getting calls and emails from all over saying this. Just average people saying, 'Wait a minute.'" The Florida Republican Party "picked 900-plus seats" in the room, about 75% of the total, the rep added, a figure confirmed by a party spokesman. But the party spokesman says "the vast majority" of the tickets "went to rank and file. We did a very thorough job" of "vetting them to make sure they went to registered Republicans and then making sure they went out to people that were not knowingly affiliated" with any one candidate. A Romney rep said the campaign got an "allotment of tickets," but he didn't know how many. "I assume it's the same as every other campaign." The rep added that he invited two people to the debate: his parents. Click for more.