July 14th, 2007
11:50 AM ET
7 years ago

Clinton, Edwards caught on open mic

Listen to Clinton and Edwards get caught with open mics.

WASHINGTON (CNN) –Next time, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, will think twice about holding a private conversation when live microphones are present.

The two Democratic presidential hopefuls had an unscripted moment Thursday at the conclusion of the NAACP candidate forum where they were overheard talking about how to thin out the number of candidates participating in these presidential events.

At the conclusion of the forum, Edwards approached Clinton on stage to talk, and the two expressed frustration over the number of candidates in the debate forum and the time allotted for answers.

The open microphone caught the following exchange:

Clinton: "We've got to talk, because they are just being trivialized."

Edwards: "They are not serious."

Clinton: "No."

Clinton: “I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that. That got somehow detoured. We got to get back to it, because that's all we're going to do."

Clinton: "Our guys should talk."

While Clinton and Edwards did not specifically mention any candidate by name, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, posted a scathing statement on his website condemning his two rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Candidates, no matter how important or influential they perceive themselves to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not,” Kucinich said. “Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our Democracy as an imperial President.”

Eric Schultz, a spokesman for Edwards’ presidential campaign, said the former North Carolina senator was not suggesting excluding candidates, but instead is proposing to “break up the field into smaller groups for real debates.”

“You cannot explain how you will end the War in Iraq or solve the climate crisis in 60 seconds,” Schultz added.

Meanwhile, a Clinton spokesman declined to elaborate on the comments, saying, "It was private conversation and forums like yesterdays are important.”

In an interesting twist, Kucinich has been criticized for not appearing at political debates for his congressional seat. Andy Juniewicz, spokesman Kucinich's presidential campaign, said the congressman has never sought to exclude another candidate from appearing at a debate or forum.

"The only issue is whether the congressmen appeared at a specific debate in the City of Cleveland at an organization called the City Club,” Juniewicz said in an interview Friday. “The City Club is not even in his congressional district. Second, over the years, the last congressional campaign or the campaign before that or the campaign before that he made numerous appearances at community organizations, various forums, street clubs, block clubs and a variety of other venues. What we are talking about in context of what happened yesterday is what has been described as subterfuge, conspiracy and collusion to exclude other candidates. The congressman has never ever attempted to exclude another candidate to present his or her issues to the public. There is absolutely no parallel."

"The DNC has sanctioned six additional debates," Juniewicz said. "If Senator Clinton or former Senator Edwards chooses not to participate in those debates because Dennis Kucinich is participating then that is their choice."

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John Edwards
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. erne

    So typical of Queen Hillsry to believe she can run the debates.

    July 13, 2007 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  2. Howard, Joshua Tree

    If the media is not going to let all who are running for the presidential nomination in each primary debate then limiting the number of democratic candidates should not be a big are hurt anyone’s feelings. In many case a third party candidate dose not have a chance at winning the general election they are often more qualified and more knowledgeable about the office of the President think back on Theodore Roosevelt, and Ross Perot.

    July 13, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. The Dude

    Forget the coversation. It's partial and has been blown way out of proportion, now we are debating on what they ment, insted of when we get our troops (my drinking buddies) back home. As far as the amount of candidates go, my personal opinon is there should be dozons of runners so everyone of them really have to put themselves out to be heard and work that much harder to be outspoken and really call the attetion of the people who they work for.(WE, the people.)

    July 13, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  4. Charlie Bean, Eureka, Ca

    What makes them better than the others?

    One turned their cheek when it was time to push universal healthcare and the other madde their money from healthcare lawsuits.

    July 13, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  5. Charlie Bean, Eureka, Calif

    I would like some time in the debates – oh, yeah, I forgot, wheelchair access is not provided to the stage.

    July 13, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. Patrick, Pasadena, CA

    Well, aren't they right? Who deserves to be on the stage? Those who have actually polling numbers, or have raised a certain amount of money...what is the cutoff? Whatever it is, there has to be one, whether it be money, popularity or endorsements....something has to be the cutoff, and that eliminates a lot of candidates right then and there.

    Duncan Hunter, Gravel, Dodd, Biden, and a few other GOP candidates are out for one of the main reasons...

    July 13, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. lavelle

    Ouch! thats gotta hurt, that really hurts Hillary she spent soooo much time trying to show a softer side to her and that she's likeable. I really dont see why people are so caught up with her. probably because they think bill clinton will just take over on the low but hillary will just have the title as president. Im sick of them and when Bill gets caught for cheating again then what? OH WE SHOULDNT HAVE TRUSTED THEM CLINTONS...please get over the clintons and vote obama 08'

    July 13, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    This little peek at Hillary just reinforces my belief that she is capable of deceit, lying and only in this race for her own self serving reasons. Why in the world would Edwards even speak with her? Is he also like her?

    July 13, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  9. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Delete the two unelectable frontrunners and their equally hopeless colleagues at the other end, including Kucinich and Gravel, and let's get down to serious debate on specific issues with the rest of the real candidates.

    July 13, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Wade Cates, Millington,Tn.

    Imagine that, Hillary having a brain cramp. If she follows Hubby's political formula she will say it was fabricated and patched sound bytes
    produced by the opposition to undermine
    her credibility.

    July 13, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. Ken Cory

    Wow, there's a lot of frothing at the mouth here over a few words without context. But, coincidentally, it's pretty indicative of the level of political disourse in our country. How about getting the full story before jumping to conclusions?

    July 13, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  12. Andy Eaker, Boone, NC

    At no time did I hear them mention the name of another candiadate the word "they" thus can't be conclusively linked to a particular candidate or a person in general. They could have been a reference to actual political issues that John and Hilary were discussing as far as we know. It is amazing the propaganda spin the other side attempts to put on statements that are taken out of context and then expects both Democrats and Republicans to believe it. It may be news to them but I believe voters of both parties are intelligent enough to know the difference and won't be brainwashed by such falsehoods

    July 13, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  13. Brett, Pembroke, MA

    Clinton: "We got to talk because they are just being trivialized."

    I don't know, Clinton and Edwards could be talking about how the media trivalizes these candidates, such as Kucinich, even though Kucinich has some good ideas on how to lead the nation.

    And once again, the media is focusing on a small, ultimately insignificant event while ignoring the issues facing our nation, and it's not clear what they are actually reporting on. What is "that" that Clinton is referring to in this overheard conversation? Organzing smaller and more comprehensive debates? Or excluding other, less popular candidates? Unless we can hear the beginning and the context of the conversation, this is, in my opinion, ultimately a vague non-story.

    July 13, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Darrell S., San Francisco, CA

    When neither Democrat or Republican really stand for true US Values, what difference does any of this make? There isn't a single candidate anywhere worthy of the title President for the next 4 years after Bush leaves office. NOT EVEN Ron Paul, whoever he is!

    When candidates start supporting a platform that takes into consideration business AND social care, then I'll be impressed. When candidates start talking about domestic AND internation policy on equal terms, then I'll listen. When a candidate supports equal rights for every single citizen of this country WITHOUT EXCEPTION, then I'll listen. When the Constitution of the United States once again reigns supreme, then I'll listen.

    Everything else is self-centered prattle. Every single candidate is wealthy and elitist. They are so far removed from the people, it's down right terrifying!

    July 13, 2007 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  15. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Maybe Hillary should be the first to bow out of the next debate, huh? Oh yeah, she never meant that SHE should get cut out. Forget the arrogance, she just isn't that savvy or polished.

    July 13, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. Los Angeles, California

    I think this qualifies as the definition of a "non-story".

    July 13, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  17. Sylvia Stafford Va

    An imagine what we would hear if the mic was there most of the time?

    July 13, 2007 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  18. Laura, Rocky River Ohio

    This indiscretion on John and Hilary's part is all the more support for the idea of all candidates having to run on the same amount of money. I think I read recently that it would cost twice as much to win the presidency in 2008 as it did in 2004. Being a top fund raiser does not make one a top leader. After all, don't we know about as much of what Dennis Kucinich (who is running on what the government will give him) would do if he were president as we do what Barack, Hillary, Rudy, or Fred would do if they were president? It would also take some power from large interests and put it in the hands of the people. I don't agree with Dennis on much, but I think he has this part right.

    July 13, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  19. Will, Richmond, VA

    OH BIG DEAL! They were discussing political stratagey. So what? Politicians from the local dog catchers on up make deals and discuss how to minimize their opponents. In the last several years we've heard racial slurs and derogutory remarks caught on open mikes. Other than a candid view of what goes on behind the scenes, I fail to see how this even compares.

    July 13, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  20. Jennifer Paul Fayetteville NC

    Clinton IS smarter and better. What's wrong with that? It's TIME for someone smarter and better.

    July 13, 2007 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  21. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    It's really unsettling listening to some of these comments. As some resemble comments one might hear from University Students during a King and Queen Campaign. One would think comments on a Presidential Campaign would warrant at least more mature statements.

    Many are quick to criticize one candidate or another for not stating how they would handle issues. Yet,
    they make negative and critical remarks about Candidates without stating their reasons.

    Watch Bill Clinton's Video on time.com. He makes more sense on all the important issues facing American today in five minutes than anyone I've heard speaking in this Campaign or this blog. Yet, the majority on these blogs do nothing but bash the Clintons. American lost a Super Intelligent, Esteemed Politician when Clinton left office. We should all pray America may be blessed with another Bill Clinton again. As with what I'm reading here there aren't many putting character, intelligence, Leadership Capabilities, or International Diplomacy, ahead of party preferences.

    July 13, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  22. John Donohue

    I saw Edwards in pasedena and he is the perfect limo liberal, I could tell that the real poor people that were watching him in the overflow video room just had glazed eyes. A couple of buiness types were looking at me as if to say do you believe this guy?
    No I don't.
    Nor do I ever trust the Clinton. Ever.
    Backslapping with Cheney, yea you are a woman but it doesn't make you better.

    Ron Paul is the only, repeat only candidtate who has integrity, smarts, and may I say humilty, something that lacks in all the other candidates.
    I would suggest the citizens of this country pressure strongly their so-called representatives to let this man have a fair playing field. Your children's future is at stake.

    July 13, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. av3, Washington DC

    And where do you suggest we get the full story from? I sure hope you don't mean from Clinton and Edwards themselves. I can only imagine what they would say. We are dealing with politicians here. What is a full story? What is the truth? But unfortunately with the media today, can you trust the context of a sound clip either? With Miles O’brien's loaded and prejudiced questions that attacked Mike Huckabee today on the
    Situation Room I thought I was watching the Fox News Channel interview Barack Obama. Will there ever be an unbiased media station we can depend on that won't, however subvert, try to advance either a liberal or conservative agenda? I was embarrassed at the tone and disrespect Miles showed today in his interview with Mr. Huckabee, who I thought did very well to keep his cool under an intense barrage of antagonistic questions. But I’ve asked a lot of questions and haven’t given the answers. I don’t know the answers. Sorry, another question: Does anybody?

    July 13, 2007 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. Dee, B'ham, AL

    Wow. Maybe Hillary and John could run on the same ticket–President and vice-president. Then we could eliminate those two candidates by voting for someone - anyone else!!

    July 13, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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