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. Allen Osborn, Redlands, California

    Imagine that, wanting to eliminate an opponent. FYI, that's the how the game is played, you morons. Dick Cheyneys's F-word outburst on the Senate floor was much worse and I'm sure you repugs weren't whining about that.

    July 13, 2007 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  2. cliff jones

    Its too bad that Dennis K is so upset over what he heard on this little bit of media eavesdropping rather than jumping up and down over the government's illegal program of listening in on everyone.

    July 13, 2007 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. Josh Slivken, Minneapolis, MN

    Now the Democrats, too
    It's not surprising that the Democrats are starting to do the same thing the Republicans are, which is censoring candidates saying things that they don't like to hear. This has been happening to Ron Paul for a while

    July 14, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  4. Undecided, but not voting for Hillary

    Seriously, I am really ready for a woman president – but why Hillary??? How can you trust the fate of a nation, a nation with nuclear weapons and world influence, in the hands of a woman who can't successfully manage her marriage. It's hard to trust someone you can't respect.

    If you truly believe that she can bring any prosperity beyond the mess that Bush has brought, you're either an overconfident fool, or a naive one. These candidates, like many politicians, gave up long ago operating from an altruistic sense of duty – hell, millions of illegal immigrants would have amnesty right now if the American people (yes, legal citizens) hadn't reminded these fools in Washington that they WORK FOR US!!!! More of you need to start pressuring your Congressional representatives instead of letting fools like Hillary tell us what we want!

    July 14, 2007 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  5. Bukky, Baltimore, MD

    Its funny that everybody is blamming Hillary for this. Whether or not the story is actually true (clearly its been edited), its still plain to see that Edwards approached HER. People are so quick to hate this woman (I have no idea why), but come on people... she did not instigate this. You are giving her too much credit.

    July 14, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  6. Teresa Teater

    Teresa Teater of
    Oregon City,Oregon,I'm a Stronge Edwards supporter,I worked for Kucinich,and Edwards and Kerry in 2003-04,and again now again in 2007 for John Edwards & Elizabeth, when they have come to Oregon.
    The amount of Money & votes required to run a campain, is siphoned off of the serious Presidential contenders when the (sorry to say, the small canidate)steps in and takes no serious stance and really doesnt gets out there and fight for his/ her Presidency.
    It's a bid letting war out there to run for office,and face it, the people with the track record will be the big contendors.
    Personally, If a canidate has never held office during a war time,and comes from mostly anti -war background, I wonder if that canidate could successfully run a better non pre-emptive war strike at all.
    You have to be able to know when to go to Battle,even if it's to run for President.
    Slinging arrows at Clinton /Edwards for speaking their truth's on open mic's ,are arrows under the Bridge.
    The rest of you need to get on the bridge , and stop giving the Republicans your Power,by petty "in fighting".
    !!!!!GO JOHN EDWARDS !!!!!!
    Keep the Mic's open....

    July 14, 2007 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  7. G, San Antonio, Tx

    That is pretty arrogant stuff
    Ms Power Hungry and Mr Good Hair
    They deserve each other
    Meanwhile Obama keeps looking better
    Maybe he just seems more down to earth than these career lawyers

    July 14, 2007 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  8. OLB Lakewood, CO

    As a matter of full disclosure, I am a Republican.

    I've got to say, I don't think this is a big deal. To be honest, I think Clinton and Edwards are right. The second tier candidates on both sides of the isle are a total joke. For every Kucinich or Gravel on the Democratic side the Republicans have a Hunter or Tancrado. I don't usually watch SNL, but they hit it on the head when they had the "irrelevenat" candidate debate a few weeks ago.

    I'd much prefer to see the top 3 or 4 candidates provide more in-depth responses instead of hearing these nut-burgers go off.

    As Clinton said, "lets talk, lets chat, lets have a dialogue." I completely agree. Let's talk ... without these second rate candidates.

    And to all you Ron Paul lovers out there, get a life. I'm tired of seeing your "Revolution" banners all over the Denver Metro area. You guys are total losers. Paul doesn't even register 1% in the polls. Go back to your computer games and graphic design classes, and leave the real campaigning to people that actually have a shot.

    July 14, 2007 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  9. John, Hackensack, NJ

    If you play the tape 11 seconds prior to what is shown above, you will hear Edwards mention how people are reacting to the 7-11 franchise promotion of the Simpsons new movie and all the hub-bub of Abu as a stereotype.

    July 14, 2007 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  10. Joseph, Syracuse, NY


    After two consecutive terms of Dubya is this what we want for our country? Kucinich is right to speak of "Imperialism" as politics for the little guy has all but dissappeared. If you are not a multi-millionaire then fat chance of even getting a chance to have a voice! Well except through blogs and comments of course...

    What has happened to America???

    July 14, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Honestly, Who can remember any more than 3 of them anyway. Clinton, Edwards and Obama. Drop the rest already. I agree with them. Who cares about the rest of them. They are just entertainment leading up to the serious debates.

    July 14, 2007 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  12. jaik , chicago, IL

    I understand what they are saying, they want to be able to explain themselves with something more than sound bites and really get into some real debate and complex messages. But the canidates like Kucinich have way more to say than they do , and really deserve more of an ear than any of the folks with all the money who we've already heard enough from. Hillary isn't as bad as her image, but she will lose against any GOP cannidate.

    I disagree with Ron Paul on some major issues, but he is the only politician of either party with the cojones to go on the debates and tell the truth, and for that kind of leadership , I am switching parties this time for the first time. The Dems need to win this to clean house, we need it badly, but Ron Paul is brilliant, which is why the media is trying to down play him so hard. He is what the GOP needs , and they just can't see it.

    July 14, 2007 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  13. Audra Mortureux, Montpellier France

    What a waste of paper, saliva and typing for comments taken out of context. Report real news like who is not doing what in Darfur and how many people are suffering and dying because of the world's indifference.

    Get constructive and report new that exists instead of creating news that doesn't.

    July 14, 2007 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  14. Katharine W, Connecticut

    ADDED MEANING! Amazing mind-reading on the part of the journalists and networks who cooked this up into a story out of nothing. Is it possible that these two candidates were discussing their frustration about the way this format DOES trivialize the debate and nothing substantial can be said or heard?

    July 14, 2007 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  15. Brandon, San Antonio, TX

    Wow when I first watched this clip I thought they were talking about the media or the people who ran this event. The more I read what you people are saying I am tempted to change my mind.
    But no, I think they are talking about the media trivializing the debates and other candidates. Its funny how people jump to the worse case scenario conclusion, that Edwards and Clinton are trying to exclude some candidates.
    Remember people, that is how we got into this war, the administration looked for worse case and ran with it. Lets give this a day or two over the weekend to play out. Edwards and Clinton are not the evil doers.

    July 14, 2007 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  16. Jerry Vancouver, WA

    Big deal! Shows an aggressive move on her part to take on anyone one on one and be allowed to go more into detail. Here I thought I was going to read something our incompetent president in office now would say or has said.

    July 14, 2007 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  17. Jerry Vancouver, WA

    Some of you seem to be confused or have been in a cave for that last 7 years. Because where you put Clinton's, your really meaning to say Bush. But it's ok, because we will survive the worst president in our nations history and move on. So lets be proud of that and we can tell our grand kids why the nation is still in ruins when they take over paying off Bushes mistakes decades to come.

    July 14, 2007 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  18. Dan, Columbus, North Carolina

    Clinton and Edwards show their true colors as elitists. God help America (and, by extension, the world) if either of them get elected.

    July 14, 2007 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  19. Nick Del, Raleigh, NC

    these are the candidates, so get used to it, all u Ron Paul supporters get real he doesn't stand a chance. As for me democrat is the way to vote after this administration's stringent devotion to corporate America and not it's real/average citizens.

    July 14, 2007 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  20. Mike, Birmingham AL

    Hitlery caught being dirty again. I am surprised by Edwards, I didn't think he was that low. O'well, go Ron Paul!

    July 14, 2007 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  21. Charles, Ny,NY

    Why even worry about this drivel? Its going to be either Giuliani or Thompson in '08 anyway. Its a shame we now have to fight these pinkos on our own soil.

    "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism, but under the name of Liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program until one day America will be a Socialist nation without knowing how it happened."

    Norman Thomas – Founder, ACLU

    July 14, 2007 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  22. Tony G

    They're either having an affair OR Clinton's thinking of making Edwards her Vice President.

    July 14, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. craig, Springfield, Virginia

    I listened to this recording, and I have no idea what they were talking about. If the article read that Clinton and Edwwards were talking about how poor Chris Dodd and Kucinich was being denegrated by the press, it would be just as plausible – meaning one could still not say for sure. Okay, they were talking about the debates, this does not make it a Cabel. They want to win, politicians are unfortunaly all about being the alpha dog if they want to win in our horse and pony show – if not we would have writers, scientists, and professors up on that stage too expressing serious ideas and thinking outside the box.

    July 14, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  24. Ward Ciac, New York NY

    The only real candidate for President is Dr Ron Paul. He is totally transparent and honest, and practices what he preaches.

    July 14, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. Brock Mullis

    I find it ironic that the two candidates who voted to give Bush a blank check for this mess in Iraq are now now privately thinking about steering OUR political process to their ends. The polls show Hillary unelectable or in a dead heat (Boy, we need another one of those) and Edwards has no experience other than his small-town guy makes good story.
    Richardson's experience and common sense aproach will win out. Just like it did for 69% of the voters in New Mexico.

    July 14, 2007 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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