Videos: Top five glitter bombings -- and how Peter Smith's attack on Mitt Romney stacks up

Cops and Secret Service agents who protect Republican presidential hopefuls are dealing with a new kind of threat -- one that sparkles. Last Tuesday, Denver got into the act when Peter Smith, a college student and politics intern, was arrested after he tried to throw blue glitter on Mitt Romney, in town for the Republican caucuses. But how did his display stack up with other glitter bombings? Decide for yourself with our top-five video countdown below.

Typically used to protest a politician's stance on gay marriage, glitter bombs may seem like a harmless form of protest, but law enforcement still takes them seriously. Could there be anthrax mixed in with the glitter, or some kind of chemical? Despite those possibilities, the trend doesn't appear to be slowing down. Here's a look at some recent showdowns between these sparkly militants and GOP candidates.

Nick Espinosa v. Newt Gingrich Date and location: May 17, 2011, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The first glitter-bombing attack occurred at a public book signing by Gingrich at the Minnesota Family Council, a group pushing to amend the Minnesota constitution by adding a gay-marriage-ban clause. The bomber, Nick Espinosa, yelled, "Feel the rainbow, Newt! Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics!" as he dumped a box filled with glitter confetti on Gingrich. While a security guard gruffly shoved the man away, Newt chuckled and commented, "Nice to live in a free country," as he brushed some of the confetti off the table. Espinosa later commented in a blog item for the Huffington Post that he is not gay but "of a generation that will not tolerate bigotry and hatred toward any group of people." And he championed glitter bombing's ability to spark imagination and humor, adding, "They can expect the sparkly showers to continue."

Rachel E. B. Lang v. Michelle Bachmann Date and location: June 18, 2011, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Bachmann, a former GOP presidential hopeful, is no stranger to glitter bombs. She was grazed by some glitter thrown by Rachel E. B. Lang as she left the stage of the Conservative RightOnline conference. As Bachmann was hurried off, Lang shouted, "You can run but you can't hide. Keep your hate out of our Constitution!" Bachmann's husband's clinic for reparative therapy has also been hit by a pack of glittery gladiators, led by Nick Espinosa.

Occupy Tampa protesters (among others) v. Rick Santorum Date and location: January 23, 2012, Lady Lake, Florida

Rick Santorum may be the most frequent target of glitter bombers because of his strong views against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. He was showered at a South Carolina event by Occupy Charleston protestors shouting "bigot" and again during a campaign stop in Iowa in late December. In fact, Santorum has learned to brace himself for the attacks, telling the media that this sparkly scare happens quite often. The most recent attack occurred during a Tea Party event at an American Legion post in Lady Lake, Florida. One of the protestors sprinkled glitter over Santorum, shouting, "Stop the hate" as security guards carried the man out and gave the rest of the protesters trespass warnings. Santorum responded to the attacks by turning the rhetoric around, arguing that these bombers are "trying to shut down free speech and anyone who disagrees with them."

The Glitterati v. Ron Paul Date and location: February 6, 2012, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ron Paul hasn't been immune. He was hit as he left the stage of a rally at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The Glitterati, an LGBT-rights group, staged the attack with "Charlie McAwesome" leading at the front lines as the key bomb-launcher while shoutin, "Housing and health care are human rights, not privileges." Taking a different spin than most of the bombers, the group protested Paul's proposed cuts of $1 trillion to the federal budget and his plan to turn Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and food stamps into state grants.

Peter Smith vs. Mitt Romney Date and location: February 7, 2012, Denver

And, finally, we reach our own local incident. Though an aiming failure by the bomber left Romney glitter-free, the mission still won attention all over the country. Peter Smith took his chance at the Tivoli auditorium as Romney shook hands with supporters. The twenty-year-old University of Colorado Denver student faces $1,000 in fines as well as the possibility of up to six months in jail; he was also fired from his internship with the Colorado State Senate Democrats. But he has said he doesn't regret his actions.

More from our Politics archive: "Video: Rachel Maddow wonders if Rick Santorum win in Colorado matters."

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