Glitter-bombing: a sparkly weapon of disapproval on the campaign trail

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Glitter is tossed into the air as Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusets Gov. Mitt Romney makes his way toward the stage during a rally at Freightmasters February 1, 2012 in Eagan, Minnesota.

Earlier this week, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was glitter-bombed by Occupy protesters in Tacoma, Wash. during a rally.

It wasn't the first time for Santorum. In fact, all of the Republican presidential candidates still in the race have faced off with glitter bombers. Unlike a ticker-tape parade or a burst of celebratory confetti, glitter-bombing is a form of protest - it tells candidates that someone thinks they're wrong on an issue.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got hit by the tiny, shiny stuff at a rally after winning the Florida primary. He brushed it off - literally as well as figuratively.

"This is an exciting time. I'm happy for a little celebration. This is confetti. We just won Florida!" he said.

This sparkly weapon of disapproval was first launched last May in Minnesota.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife were signing books at an event sponsored by a group that opposes same-sex marriage.

"Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics! It's dividing our country and it's not fixing our economy," a protester yelled as he hit Gingrich with glitter.

"Nice to live in a free country," Gingrich said. Meanwhile, the protester, Nick Espinosa, was being quickly escorted out.

Espinosa says he's part of the "Glitterati — a nationwide movement to stand up to bigotry and anti-gay politics with a lighthearted dousing of glitter."

Espinosa is 25 and unemployed. He told NPR he carried his glitter to the event in a Cheez-It box. But why glitter in the first place?

"It's a harmless but sensational way to bring attention to serious issues," Espinosa says. "I knew he wasn't going to be hurt by it, but I also knew that it would stick with him and that, you know, for the days to come he'd be remembering what I said as he pulled the glitter sparkles from his hair. And that you know, of course, who doesn't want to see Newt Gingrich covered in glitter?"

Well, Gingrich for one. He told The New York Times in an email that "glitter-bombing is clearly an assault and should be treated as such."

In fact, a Colorado student was arrested last week after tossing glitter at Romney in Denver. He was charged with causing a disturbance, an unlawful act on school property and throwing a missile.

And a Washington, D.C., optometrist warns that it is possible to injure someone with glitter.

"If it gets into the eyes, the best scenario is it can irritate, it can scratch. Worst scenario is it can actually create a cut," Stephen Glasser told The Hill. He also noted that breathing glitter into your nose and sinuses could cause an infection.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio.

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