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. Sarah, Rockford Illinois

    "government by the people; especially : rule of the majority : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections : the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges" Webster's Dictionary. Definition of Democracy, Hey Hilary and John, You seriously need to read up on the whole Democratic process and what it stands for, cause, baby, heaven help America if either of you are elected, you will in one fell swoop have taken us back to before the Revolutionary War!!!

    July 14, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. scott, minneapolis, MN

    Hillary will be much worse for our country than the current administration!! I really don't care who wins this election, as long as it's not her!!!!!!

    July 14, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. erika morgan black dimond wa

    Just a few thoughts.
    I am a Hillary fan, and by not being real with me and the public, in this instance I am put off, nobody likes to be manipulated.
    Edwards was inching into my vote with his pre-campaign work in Katrina relief, this sort of thing, sweat equity, in a cause does indicate a part of the real measure of a man and does get reported, but if it is just for the cameras we'll get the phoniness; free public recognition is a good thing for any campaign.
    I still have heard nothing that diminishes my high regard for Kucinich, and now he is helped by an underdog status.
    As I recall Bill Clinton came on as a dark horse from the rear when he first was elected.

    The solution is to have more debate time, say one question for all the candidates, with time for a real discussion and rebuttal of ideas, also this would showcase unscripted responses, ability to negotiate, intelligence and originality, mental nimbleness, and compromise all important requirements in a President. We could have a new question each two or three days, some just one party, some everyone together, even minor party and independents, but a real debate or discussion so we really understand who we are voting on; democracy with such a large public depends on transparency and honesty. A process like a series of job interviews, candidates may not like it; but they are asking to work on our behalf and we must measure them honestly so they will do as asked or forfeit running.

    July 14, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Lisa, Searcy, AR

    Isn't it a little strange that is was Fox that left the mics on? Were they hoping to catch something a little more damning?

    July 14, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Michael Kosmin, Morgantown, PA


    July 14, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Joan Wilson, Austin, Texas

    Are we really surprised? The attitude reflected in this conversation reveals how most politicians view the American public – we are not quite intelligent enough, or sophisticated enough, or observant enough, so we can be manipulated and controlled for their greater good. God Bless journalists and the news. Even at its worst, it shines a light on these behaviors and gives us all a "head's up".

    July 14, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Levi, Greensboro NC


    July 14, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Lynn, Green Bay, WI

    I'm sorry, but isn't that what it's all about...narrowing the field? Give me a break!

    July 14, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Rich San Francisco, CA

    The VOTERS narrow the field, not the candidate.
    The VOTERS ick the candidate, nto the other way around.

    They're right that the debates are a joke. What they don't get is that the "fringe" candidates are the only ones providing real answers, off the script, that inspire thought. You want to break it into groups? Okay - Clinton, Kucinich, and Dodd. Obama vs, Edwards. Like that?

    Instead of letting the Central Party's preordained candidates cut their rivals from the debates (exactly what the Democrats-Republicans do to third party challengers), let's make the debates longer. Four hours, seat them all around a table. Ask a question and let fly. One good thing that could be stolen from the shoutfest tv shows.


    July 14, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Patrick, Knoxville, Tennessee

    Hillary is the second most dangerous to come down the pike in the past eight years, When are we going to have real debates with questions that are not scripted so the candidates can approve them beforehand. Lets have a real debate where they have to field real questions from real Americans. They want more than 60 seconds to speak? Well we want more that the same old rhetoric for answers. Maybe Fred Thompson or someone else will speak the truth.

    July 14, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Dennis, Leesville, LA

    All politicains should be required to wear costumes that show them to be the clowns that they really are.

    July 14, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Jon, Los Angeles, CA

    They're both right. Unless you stand a serious shot of winning the nomination, don't waste my time.

    July 14, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. Jo Tahar

    I agree with Kucinich. And I appreciate seeing/hearing all of the candidates in one forum/debate. Let's work to keep Hillary on the Hill and let's send Edwards for another haircut and wardrobe makeover. Gee, Obama looks better to me every day!

    July 14, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Paula Angelique Hafner, Feldkirch

    I think it is great that Clinton is trying to monopolize the campaign, who cares about demacracy anyways, surely not the American people. I'm gonna vote for her just because she's a woman and why break up a generation of people in the white house with a name other than Bush or Clinton? When will Chelsea be able to run? And what ever happend to Jeb's nephew? Let's have Barabra run as the first Grandmother or how about Bush's daughter's as the first twins. We really do not even need to waste our time with campaigns anymore. It's not a two party system, its a two family system. God bless America...

    July 14, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Hank M Dubois PA

    Umm they were right.

    Im not even a Clinton or Edwards fan. But right now there are serious canidates being forced to debate hopeless canidates in the Democratic party.
    Right now you have 3 strong leaders in the race and 2 others with a chance(Biden and Richerdson). Beyond that no one else has a realistic chances barring a world changing event.

    The Republican party isnt quite the same story. The average Republican voter isnt happy with any of the canidates.

    July 14, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. Andy, 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

    Posted By Andy Eaker, Boone, NC : July 13, 2007 7:58 pm"

    Again, nobody can show specifically who they were talking about and until they do I'll believe they were actually talking about issues. Don't be manipulated by media pushing their own agenda.

    Since when does Propaganda become news?

    July 14, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Joe Long Island

    How can you expect MS. President Clinton to secure our intelligence when she can;t evenm secure her own confidential opions on an open mike? What a Joke! We are doomed!!

    July 14, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Douglas Kahan

    "I believe we should have one America where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Where everyone has exactly the same opportunites to do well" . John Edwards (http://youtube.com/profile?user=johnedwards)

    This statement is inconsistent with the words spoken 'off camera' and captured on an open mic , words between Sen. Clinton and John Edwards.

    Is this not hypocracy?

    July 14, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. gtltc

    Bush would never have invaded Iraq if it wasn't for Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Cheney, etc.

    Who is the president does make a difference, but also who are the people around them.

    July 14, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. cs

    whats the big deal. i agree, get the guys with less than 1 percent support out of there. the debates are so boring otherwise.

    July 14, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Does anyone else find it unusual that a small inconsequential story like this one would generate 71 comments so far? Most political stories I've read generate a response in the 20's tops. It would seem that one candidate or another is directing the "tenor" of this debate.

    July 14, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Sabas Peralta Jr. Honolulu, Hawaii

    Why both are back stabbing their own fellow Senators behind their backs, is both of them seeing each other behind closed doors ? why the whispering to betray their own.

    July 14, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. oohinteresting

    This IS so news! Anyone who says otherwise has no idea that the word "vet" means something other than the guy who looks at your dog.

    I was embarrassed by John Edwards in 2004. And I want to hear less of him today. But, he is right. We need to narrow the field and hear more from Democratic candidates who actually have a chance to win the election. This is a serious election. No time for also-rans who had their chance and failed.

    July 14, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Ernie North Truro, MA

    Fox News and other outlets document this little plot. It is not trivial. Look at the number of comments. Integrity, fairness and judgment are important. Obama has these qualities. If you think experience tops everything, draft Dick Cheney. He has more tham any of them. Mr. Vice President..Obama, by the way, unlike Hillary takes no donations from Federal Lobbyists and is the only candidate to disclose his earmark requests.

    July 14, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. Gerald, Madison, Wisconsin

    Its emblematic, really. Clinton especially is worried about Obama. Clinton supporters have for some time been talking of a somewhat concerted effort between Clinton and Edwards to battle the charisma powerhouse that is the unseasoned Obama. This conversation is exactly as it appears–Clinton has wanted to reach out to Edwards for some time in order to offset the popularity of Obama. She sees Senator Obama as her main opponent for the Presidency, and feels that Edwards would make a sound running mate. Ah, to be in the top tier of Presidential candidates.

    July 14, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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