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. Walter Stewart - Sunnyvale CA

    To all you bloggers that claim the conversation is taken out of context or not clear. There are other videos and recordings of the same event online with a more complete conversation and they were definitely talking about cutting out the "others".

    July 14, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  2. Scott Burger, Richmond, VA

    Now Democratic leaders are trying to figure out how to make their exclusion of their OWN party's candidates more palatable?

    Vote Green! Support open debates! Support Instant Runoff Voting!

    July 14, 2007 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  3. Brandon, Atlanta, GA

    Who freaking cares?

    July 14, 2007 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  4. D. Feldman Oak Park Ill.

    This show how much we are in need of a third party.

    July 14, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Who cares...this is a non story..

    July 14, 2007 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. Chris, Pittsburgh PA

    One commenter wrote "Vintage Clinton!! I deserve to govern because I’m better & smarter than the others!"

    Do we really want a president who is worse and dumber than others? Or one that is afflicted with false modesty? Our leaders are supposed to be better, more able, more focused and driven.

    July 14, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. Dallas from Dallas TX

    I'm sure that , in its true context, this exchange was solely about free health care, reducing global warming, withdrawing from Iraq, impeaching Bushitler, offering amnesty to illegals, freeing the Palestinians, lifting Cuban sanctions, and giving The Bono what he needs to save Africa.

    Cmon, What else would noble leaders talk about?

    July 14, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. Brian Londonderry, NH

    Gossip, news, non-story, call it what you will. Politics has just become an entertainment industry to the news media. What better way to sell product. (I mean report).

    July 14, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. Mary - Greensboro, NC

    The media is killing this election. Haven't you noticed that only the candidates with the most money are getting air time? If you talk with the general public, no one has heard of Kucinich, Gravel, Biden. Why is that? Is it because they don't have the money, the media is slighting them?

    July 14, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. Debbie, Appleton, Wisconsin

    I guess the democratic candidates just proved how stupid they truly are. This is politics 101 – make sure your mic is off before making comments. They both failed. This tells me neither candidate should be campaigning – they definitely can't be trusted. Really dumb Hillary – but what else should we have expected from her.

    July 14, 2007 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Nikki, Dayton, Ohio

    Dennis can't be allowed to be around to speak the truth at these events.... They fear him because he is the one who cuts throught all the BS and makes it more difficult for them to avoid the really important issues.

    If only someone like Dennis could get elected- but it will never happen because of this kind of political sabatosh that is as old as politics it's self.

    They marginalize what he is saying, but if people would just listen to his wisdom they would see he is making more sense than anyone else on the Democratic side. And is the cadidate who is most "for the people".

    If you are unfamiliar with his opinions I encourage you to see what he has to say. Do not judge him on how he is portrayed in the media- they is biased beyond ridiculous.

    Dennis Kucinich speaks for me and my family and shouldn't we have SOME representation?

    July 14, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Scott, Austin, TX

    Non-story. How about reporting on how only one Republican, Tancredo, showed up for their turn on the same stage. Check out the piece, with photo of Tancredo alone of the stage, on the Huffington Post. That sends a loud message about how the Republican candidates feel about civil rights, and is a much more important story than these nothing open-mic comments.

    July 14, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Archie L. Bailey, Coatesville, PA

    There was nothing critical to the direction of this nation discussed. The focus needs to be returned to the problems that have been created during the past seven years.

    July 14, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Anonymous

    They may be socialist democrats but that’s the way communism starts – no room for other ideas and if someone has one, squash it! I think the top runners should be excluded from some debates so we can actually hear and see what some others have to say. Declare a media blackout on the party elites. Its time we the people take back our government!

    July 14, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. Bob, Pittsburgh

    Chris from Pittsburgh, stop drinking from the Mon. Our "leaders" are supposed to be Americans just like us. When they start thinking they are better than us and they know what we need. Isn't that kinda what that little war back in the late 1700's was about.

    July 14, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Kathy Silver

    We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice etc. must clean house now! We need a third party beholding only to the people. We need real debates that are televised on numerous channels that are free to participants. We need to eliminate lobbying as a profession. Any candidate that employs any relative in any way should be censured and not allowed to run again. Somehow we need to get money out of politics from the federal level right on down to the state,city and county level. We need to separate money from government and we might get some truly good people running for office. We need a third party with a candidate that has some integrity and brilliance. I fear for the future of the country on the downword spiral that we are in.

    July 14, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. ReadBtwthlins

    Liars and cheats, the both of them. Exactly what we've come to expect from politicians.., and the media.

    July 14, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Linda, Oshkosh WI

    I read nothing in that brief exchange that indicates what Clinton and Edwards were discussing or in what context.

    Let's not allow the media to manipulate us in this way.

    July 14, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Rachael J. Minneapolis, MN

    Kucinich shouldn't worry or get too defensive, it is not his nature. He has a following, young and old, fed up with what has become of our once beautiful country. We have gone broke under this administration. College was once affordable-I'll be paying my student loans when I'm on Medicare thanks to Bush. Kucinich will have my vote no matter what!!! My husband and I can't even afford a baby because of insurance in this country and we couldn't afford to send our child to college. We are middle class people and tax paying homeowners. We need someone as far left as Bush is right to repair all the damage he has done as president(actually that title belongs to Gore, vote for vote). I am so sick of these true politicians and their scams, lies and "politicing". Shame on Hilary, Edwards, and Obama, they make me vomit.
    Kucinich for change, peace, truth and a planet we can actually live on and breath in.

    July 14, 2007 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  20. Katie, Millersburg PA

    I for one am not a Hillary Clinton fan but this is NOT A STORY. I see no reason for 10 or so people running from 1 party. One of the few times I agree with her. Put a little more time on the REAL stories!!

    July 14, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Dave

    They are both dirtballs that should not be president.

    July 14, 2007 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  22. Dave

    Wow, some comments survived talking about Ron Paul. I had my comments on some other posts deleted by CNN and they were not objectionable at all. Merely suggested he was one of the very few politicians that were honest, moral and fiscally responsible. Most are dirtball lawyers that lie and cheat constantly and don;t have an honest bone in their body and sell their souls for votes to anyone telling them what they want to hear and have no intentions to help anyone but themselves. Hillary is one of the worst. That she has ANY appeal whatsoever says a lot about too many of the gullible American people.

    July 14, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Sarah, Rockford Illinois

    I seem to recall a little used phrase,"for the people, by the people," somehow these two have long ago forgotten that they were elected not divinely appointed and can just as easily by elected out, after all that is what everyone of my ancestors fought and died for when this country took on the largest, most powerful military power and won our freedom, freedom from imperialistic, egomanical self-righteous "candidates" such as these. And anyway, everyone, who decides to run for office has the constitutional right to be heard by the American people, and no-one, including Hilary Clinton and John Edwards has the right to try and take that from them!!!!!

    July 14, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. Chuck, Santa Barbara, CA

    LOL, my comment was removed. Guess they didn't like me calling politicans crooked. Maybe it's because I called CNN's favorite politican crooked?

    July 14, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Gary, Evansville, IN

    Are you all seriously unable to see that every move Clinton has EVER made, has been to get HER back into the Whitehouse? If it takes "acting" like she's human, she takes classes and then does a photo op. There is a reason so many WOMEN are against her also... She's not a person you can trust. The funny thing, I haven't decided WHO I want for President yet, nobody has really stood out and impressed me. Although, I will say, I have decided on one candidate and that is being scared to death of what Clinton can do to this country if given the chance. PLEASE, I BEG YOU ALL, DON'T LET THAT HAPPEN!

    July 14, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6