"If one party does it, the other party has to do it, right?" said Mr. Alpert, senior vice president of the Washington Center, a nonprofit organization that has been sending students to party conventions through its National Political Convention Program since 1984. "I think it's part of the game that the parties play, and it draws some attention and interest. And I think it's more important these days. You've got to find a way to attract a television audience."
"It certainly sometimes makes for good entertainment and headlines," Mr. Alpert said of the practice. "Sometimes, controversy that they can control is a good way to get that."