November 10th, 2007
03:48 PM ET
6 years ago

Democratic rivals respond to Clinton's planted question

Edwards said staging questions in an audience is "what George Bush does.".

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Saturday that staging questions in an audience is something he doesn't do and that it's "what George Bush does."

"That's what George Bush does," the former senator from North Carolina said. "George Bush goes to events that are staged, where people are screened, where the'yre only allowed to ask questions if the questions are favorable to George Bush and set up in his favor."

On Friday, the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, issued a statement to CNN in response to an article written by a college newspaper that included the accusation that the campaign suggested a student ask a certain question.

“On this occasion a member of our staff did discuss a possible question about Senator Clinton's energy plan at a forum,” campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said in the statement. “However, Senator Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event. This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again.”

"That's not the way democracy works in Iowa," Edwards said in response to questions on the topic, "and it's not the way it works in New Hampshire. I mean if you actually want to be president of the United States, you go out, you face people–which I've done–in every one of the 99 counties in Iowa and answer their questions."

"We don't stage questions. We go in and answer the questions that are asked, and that's the way it's supposed to work in the caucus process."

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, responding to the same question, simply said, "It's not a terribly wise thing to do."

Related: Watch Clinton's controversial question 

Related: Obama: We don't plant questions

Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

– CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch


Filed under: Chris Dodd • Hillary Clinton • Iowa • John Edwards • Race to '08
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Bill,boston,ma

    Nonsense Cnn, we had this story for 2days now.......I guess no news...

    November 10, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    i counted at least two misspellings

    November 10, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. KEITH JAMES LOUTTIT

    "Senator Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event???" Oh sure! Of course she didn't know which questioners she was calling on, she's totally clueless isn't she? She had her eyes closed, and just pointed blindly to the space she was told would have a pre-staged questioner waiting to ask her a randomly programmed question? Or is this a case of it being all of the questions are staged?

    I kinda think it's all a show anyway, and I bet CNN is playing a big role there!

    November 10, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Emmanuel, VA

    An advice for OBAMA:

    Row, row, row your boat gently down to the White House.

    Merrily merrily merilly merilly Clinton has been revealed. At last the Clinto machine has showned the oil sludge they've been secretly feeding America.

    November 10, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Earl, Ohio

    C'mon, John. You should know by now that if your last name is Clitnon or Bush, you only have to answer the questions that help your image. -IS- you last name Bush or Clinton? Do you know what the defintion of "is" is?

    November 10, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Anonymous, Yorktown, VA

    "On this occasion a member of our staff did discuss a possible question about Senator Clinton's energy plan at a forum,” campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said in a statement. “However, Senator Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event."

    Sounds like an "... BUT, I DIDN'T INHALE..." excuse to me. Come on, don't continue to play us as fools!!!

    November 10, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Kendall, Newark NJ

    You misspelled caucus and asked.

    November 10, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Earth to Erwards, you are not running against Bush.

    Don't you just love it when the Dem, and soon Repub candiatdes start their meltdown!

    November 10, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Tommy's SpellCheck

    KENDALL: It wasn't a MISSPELLED word, otherwise known in the biz as (sic) meaning Spelled InCorrectly, but rather it was a TYPO, meaning the dyslexic moron had his thumbs crossed when he, or she, was typing the story.

    November 10, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. Bubba Mobile, AL

    To do as George Bush does is pure genius.

    November 10, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Jen, Gainesville, FL

    The Hillary campaign should fold and go. How can you fool the American people like this? Where is leadership and wisdom?

    No wonder we had the fake FEMA press conference a while ago. No wonder we had the Clinton sex scandal(s). No wonder financial frauds committed by executives in the late 1990s have left many ordinary people with no savings.

    Honesty, integrity, and dignity have been trashed by some politicans and practitioners. We do not need politicians like the Clintons.

    November 10, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Giovanni Maria Pala

    "Senator Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event???"

    I was there, and I know for a fact that she was totally innocent of this, only asking questions of people who had the proper sequence of loaves of bread.

    It was like a requiem.

    November 10, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Dan, TX

    You can't blame Clinton, she has a big lead based on name recognition and she is trying not to have to say anything that isn't rehearsed since it is possible to make a mistake. Any mistake she makes will get big news coverage.

    She might be a good candidate, but why should she bother to open her up to comparisons with others if she has the lead? That would be foolish. Her best strategy would be to disappear until after the election. If she could bow out of the debates without a backlash, that would be a good strategy.

    I don't blame her, her goal is to win, there's no law against being a little manipulative, is there?

    November 10, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Keith Jarrell

    Clinton is scrambling now! It's clear with questions being asked by her staff to college studes she is running scared. The fact is she is intimidated by the turn on her since she can't answer any of the questions on the merit of the real answer. She has to twist and turn on every item to make it sound good to each and every option. The real sad thing here is the fact that finally her true side is coming to the front. She never has been honest and has never had the ability to really give an honest answer. Simply because she is striving to get every vote she can get to win the nomination. Then what?
    MORE DISHONESTY!
    It's time for democratic voter to wake up and realize that there are far better people in this race than Hillary Clinton!

    November 10, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Aidyn, NY, NY

    I have to admit I am a little disappointed at Hillary for letting her campaign get catch doig it. I am almost positive that all the other canmpaigns do it as well but Hillary unfortunatelly got caught.

    November 10, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Joe Friday with Just the Facts, Southwest Vermont

    No, there is no law against planting questions, but in this case it is not only dishonest, but dumb. Senator Clinton hectored an Iowan last month and accused him of being a plant when he asked a perfectly relevent question albeit a tough one.

    What is disturbing is Senator Clinton's need to stick to a script and duck the hardball questions. Plants, limiting access and other slights of hand also don't auger well with a public who is clamoring for not only change, but openness, clairity and answers that are easily understood. After Bush II, America is through with this type of behavior.

    Penn, McAuliffe, Wolfson and others are bright, experienced campaigners and pollers. They should realize that Senator Clinton, because of her past and Bill's as well, will have her feet held to the fire with this type of sophomoric stunt.

    It's unworthy of a bright and articulate Senator who, while guilty of excessive "lawyerese", knows that here opponents in both parties and the press are just waiting to pounce.

    While I am unable to vote for Senator Clinton, I'm growing a bit tired of tales of "stiffing" waitresses, funny fundraisers (i.e. Hsu and the Dishwashers) et al. Continuation of present behavior will only result in a lessening of support. Hopefully, for the good of all us she will wake up.

    November 10, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Ron, TX

    Manipulation... deception... lies... Welcome to the BUSH Administration.

    Clinton-Machine has been making errors left and right the past two or so weeks. After this, they are done. Changing the President's name just isn't enough. We need REAL change.

    A second person has come forward. The Clinton campaign tried to make him ask a loaded question back in April. Stick a fork in Clinton. She's done.

    November 10, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. John Peters, Detroit Michigan

    Ms. Clinton has greater problems than
    a questioner plant. She remindes me of Rema people staging the event.
    ANyway the big story on the internet is her alleged affair with her staff Huma Abedin.

    November 10, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. proudamericancitizen, Florida

    If Hillary plants questioners, isn't it possible that she's planting "pollsters" to make people believe that she's the frontrunner? Things that make you go hmmmmmmm…

    November 10, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. kyle beacon, ny

    Illinois Minister Tells ABC News That Clinton Staffer Asked Him to Pose a War Question

    Another Question Planted by Clinton Campaign
    Illinois Minister Tells ABC News That Clinton Staffer Asked Him to Pose a War Question

    By ELOISE HARPER
    Nov. 10, 2007

    One day after Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign confirmed that a staffer planted a question for the presidential candidate at a recent campaign stop, another person has come forward with a similar story.

    Geoff Mitchell, a minister who recently moved to Hamilton, Ill., from Iowa, told ABC News that he was approached this spring by Clinton's Iowa political director Chris Haylor to ask Clinton a question about war funding.

    Mitchell, 32, said that the request "this did not sit well with me in the tradition of the Iowa caucus."

    "I grew up in Iowa and I value the tradition of the caucuses of answering the questions of the people," Mitchell said.

    Mitchell said he introduced himself to Haylor because he had heard of him before and knew that he had worked on Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's campaign.

    Before the campaign event, Haylor asked Mitchell if he would pose a specific question about Iraq. The question was about how Clinton would be tough on President Bush about funding the Iraq war, Mitchell said.

    The event, however, ran out of time before reaching a question-and-answer period.

    Mitchell said he figured that the Clinton campaign was looking for an opportunity to highlight the difference between her position on Iraq and her Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama's position on the war.

    The Clinton campaign confirmed to ABC News that Clinton's staffer and Mitchell did speak about a possible Iraq question.

    "Chris Haylor and Geoff Mitchell knew each other and they started talking and the subject of Iraq came up," Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, "and Chris suggested that he ask a question about Iraq."

    The revelation today about a campaign-prompted question comes just one day after the Clinton campaign admitted to planting a question this week in Iowa.

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3848826&page=1

    November 10, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. Robert, New Hampshire

    This is not that big of a deal. Other campaigns, Republicans and Democrats, do the same thing. Lets not make this a big deal, but we should be focusing on many of Senator Clinton's other, relevant, faults. Not this one, when it can be easily proved that other campaigns do the same thing. If we make this a big deal, then we have to make it a big deal when other campaigns are caught like Obama, Ron Paul and Guiliani, which I know will not catch as much hate simply because they are not Senator Clinton.

    Ron Paul 08'

    November 10, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Colin742

    The voters know Hillary is competant and knowledgable and has answered thousands of questions, can speak in lucid paragraphs. The voters will not be swayed by these foolish childish gotcha games. The 7 to one attack at the last debate did not lower her support. This will not either. When the others attack, they see this as politics as usual. Keep it up.

    November 10, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Laura, Baltimore MD

    Well, surprise, surprise! Hillary Clinton won't answer real questions from audience members. Why does it not surprise me?

    Why does it also not surprise me that John Edwards will answer any question anyone asks him? Oh yeah, because he's honest and I already know that.

    November 10, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  24. Lioness, Washington DC

    "We don't stage question" says the Clinton campaign?

    THEY DO.

    They tried to do it again. This time, the person was none other than the Iowa political director Chris Haylor.

    From ABC News, here is an excerpt:

    "One day after Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign confirmed that a staffer planted a question for the presidential candidate at a recent campaign stop, another person has come forward with a similar story.

    "Geoff Mitchell, a minister who recently moved to Hamilton, Ill., from Iowa, told ABC News that he was approached this spring by Clinton's Iowa political director Chris Haylor to ask Clinton a question about war funding.

    "Mitchell, 32, said that the request "this did not sit well with me in the tradition of the Iowa caucus."

    " "I grew up in Iowa and I value the tradition of the caucuses of answering the questions of the people," Mitchell said.

    "Mitchell said he introduced himself to Haylor because he had heard of him before and knew that he had worked on Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's campaign.

    "Before the campaign event, Haylor asked Mitchell if he would pose a specific question about Iraq. The question was about how Clinton would be tough on President Bush about funding the Iraq war, Mitchell said.

    "The event, however, ran out of time before reaching a question-and-answer period.

    "Mitchell said he figured that the Clinton campaign was looking for an opportunity to highlight the difference between her position on Iraq and her Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama's position on the war.

    "The Clinton campaign confirmed to ABC News that Clinton's staffer and Mitchell did speak about a possible Iraq question.

    " "Chris Haylor and Geoff Mitchell knew each other and they started talking and the subject of Iraq came up," Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee said, "and Chris suggested that he ask a question about Iraq."

    Ergo, the Clinton campaign is lying. So what's new in Hillaryland?

    November 10, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    I dont understand why, for 2 days now, CNN put this news item on its first home page and as a first item on its ticker page.

    Is this item so important? Slow news days?

    It seems people here are hateful, and bash Hillary for whatever she does or does not do. She is winning and these people are whinning.

    November 10, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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