July 14th, 2007
11:50 AM ET
11 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. Noelle

    I'm glad they got caught. They deserved it.

    July 14, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  2. Michael, New York, NY

    The coverage regarding the conversation between Edwards and Clinton is boring at best. Where is the coverage describing the GOP candidates' performance at the NAACP forum? (Oh, that's right, only one of them showed up).

    July 14, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. South Carolina, the 1st Southern Primary

    Hillary and John didn't say anything worth hearing, LOL.

    These out of context snippets are just juicy sirloin tips for the media to gossip about, to bring attention to their station / website / menu.

    Private conversation in front of an open mic is a mistake, granted, but humans are prone to those. But its the humans that LEARN from their mistakes that are moving forward, unlike the current "humans" in the White House.

    America is ready for a change, and the replublicans WILL be ousted in 08 – DESPITE the petty gossip from the media.


    July 14, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  4. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    It is interesting that Hillary fans cite this as a "non-story". Where is your sense of democracy and fairness? Hillary just shot herself in the foot big-time. Good luck to Obama.

    July 14, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Didn't All the Democrats blow off the "Black caucus" debate because it was on Fox? Gutless cowards who are afraid of a few tough questions (See Bill Clinton and Chris Wallace).

    Republicans will show up at the racist NAACP debates when the minorities show up at the KKK debates, same type of hate and lies between the two groups.

    This is a story because Kerry, Clinton and Carter were all considered second tier candidates who eventually got the nomination.

    The phoniness of these two is right there to see if you open your eyes and watch the whole clip (NOTHING out of context) as you can see these two schemimg and Kucinich comes over and in mid whisper Shrillary says "thanks Dennis" for the debate.

    Insert knife in back, twist, repeat, it's what the shrew does.

    This would have been the lead story in the MSM if it was Republicans trying to weed out the candidates way to EARLY in the process.

    July 14, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  6. Ernie, North Truro, MA

    I am sure Gerald is right andd the main reason Clinton fears Obama is that he projects authenticity. He is the real thing. No makeover can give that to Hillary.

    July 14, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. Walter Stewart - Sunnyvale CA

    Here is why you want to have a multiplicity of candidates: It keeps the top tier on their toes, more issues brought up, more depth of coverage.

    The top tier becomes the top tier because they rose above the others in platform and public appeal. The fewer the candidates, the narrower the perspective.

    Some of those second tier candidates are the only ones keeping tougher issues on the table an out in the open, so they are doing the whole democratic process a HUGE service!

    July 14, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Glenda, McEwen, TN

    I distinctly remember a time when our President said a swear word on an open mic, but it was quickly downplayed by the media and the Republican political bulldozer. Yet, most of you are using this time to attack Hillary. As far as I'm concerned, Hillary is the best choice for 08. I've been in contact with Senator Obama's Chicago office asking for help from him for my son because of the abuse he suffered while in Illinois at Navy boot camp. I was turned down several times. My family learned what the true meaning of the Audacity to Hope means. Nothing. I contacted Senator Clinton's office and they are looking into how to help my son return home. You see, he didn't get to begin his A School training, he was admitted to the psychiatric hospital and has been there since May 12. The navy has now said he is of no use to them, having scored a 97 out of 99 on his ASVAB, and he is now a shell of his former self. I'm going with a candidate who tries to help everyone in this country. And for our family that is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton!

    July 14, 2007 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  9. Scott, Michigan

    Well, I think we just got a sneak peak at our next 'appointed' (not elected) President and Vice President. Since when do rival candidates discuss colluding with each other to eliminate other competition that makes them look bad?

    If this were a serious race, don't you think it would be dog-eat-dog?

    If I didn't hopelessly believe in the dream of America, I would almost view this as Clinton KNOWING (not thinking) that she will be next President and Dean will be VP. She is clearly suggesting that she has sole discretionary power over what the DNC does, and the whole debate process is just a pony show. That is until someone goes off-script and ACTUALLY challenges them and makes them look bad. They need to removed from the show.

    You do not need to remove 'fringe' candidates. If their view is unpopular, they will lose the funding on their own and drop out. That is the way it should be. If they remain running, it is because their views are popular.

    Since when did we become a decidership?

    July 15, 2007 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  10. Scott, Michigan


    Maybe that is because the NAACP is an ethnocentric organization that seeks to segregate people based on the color of their skin and needs to be eliminated to end racism?

    But, then I bet you thought the patriot act was actually patriotic and the Net Neutrality Act was actually Neutral, right?

    You know what's worse than NOT voting? Voting uninformed.

    Friends don't let friends vote stupid.

    July 15, 2007 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  11. Scott, Michigan

    And BTW, CNN is actually making it sound better than it is. They cut out all the substantial parts from the recording and left only enough to make it seem confusing.

    Context? Try listening to the ENTIRE exchange. These two were clearly talking about having other candidates removed from the debates and off the primary ballots.

    They were colluding with each other to manipulate the election, which in a truly free country would be illegal. And it is illegal, but I won't hold my breath waiting for them to be held accountable. Just a preview of more to come...

    As I said before: If the 'fringe' candidates are NOT popular, they will drop out on their own. That is the way it is supposed to work. The only people that can decide a year and a half before the election who is credible and who is not is the people, their money, and their primary votes.

    When a few people decide this for the majority of us, we have ceased to be a free country and might as well stop wasting money on campaigning.

    Is Hillary afraid she can't get elected fairly?

    July 15, 2007 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  12. George, New Orleans, LA

    I'd love to see Gravel and Kucinich squeezed out, and I'd love to see Dr. Paul squeezed by the Republicans. Then, perhaps, two of those three could come together to fight these two parties in the general election. ANYBODY ELSE BESIDES ME SICK OF BOTH THE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATS? I've been pleased with these three gentlemen so far - I just don't understand why they're running in the parties they're running in. We have to free ourselves of this stranglehold these two pitiful parties have on us! Bring on the independent/third party!

    July 15, 2007 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  13. Baptists For Brownback Comment-Moderator, Grace

    Given who it was, I am just surprised that profanity and vulgarity was not overheard as well.

    July 15, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. John, Dayton, Ohio

    I say, grade the candidates on a curve (like high school class grades are sometimes averaged). If the candidates know up-front that the top poll and bottom poll candidates will be dropped from the competition at a certain date, they will participate fairly and equally. Also, put a smaller cap on contributions that limits how much money a candidate can use to promote his/her ideas. Say, "You have until May 1st to raise up to X amount of money and then THAT'S IT!" Lastly, standardize debate questions to have simple yes or no answers with the remainder of 60 seconds dedicated to the "why" portion of the answer. Any further explanation of ideas can be provided on candidate websites or newspaper ads.

    July 15, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Ben, Nashville TN

    All of you who think 'this is who the candidates are so get used to it' I ask that you take 2 minutes, visit ronpaul2008.com, and watch the video "Freedom is popular"

    Ron Paul is not in the top tier of candidates, but he has more money than John McCain from this quarter, specifically from individuals who have seen that he has good ideas and appears to be someone you can actually take at their word. Just check out the video and decide from there

    July 15, 2007 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Gabrielle - Orlando, Fl

    Hilary and John caught on tape!!! Hey stupid, if you want to cut a back-room deal, then get a "back-room". Geez, how dumb can you get?

    In front of open-mics the two discuss how they can get rid of the other candidates. Candidates that are bringing up very important issues in the debates. Important issues these jerks just don't want to debate. So, just as they are strategizing on how to kick DK and others out of future debates these two fascist smile and shake his hand.

    Remember this the next time you see these fakes on tv shaking the hands of voters they are trying to court. They'll shake your hand, then stab you in the back.

    July 15, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. Jake, Houston, TX

    Sen. Clinton wouldn't need to worry about answering how to end the Iraq war in 60 sec. if she hadn't voted for giving this lunatic Pres. the authority to go in there in the first place. As usual she wants it both ways... I guess whatever it takes to chinook the american public.

    July 15, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  18. andywhatley

    If you think these insignificant comments are bad, you would freak out if you heard what they say when they are really alone...

    July 15, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  19. Rich Williams, Columbus, OHIO

    Such a shame. This is a country where all can participate in the political process. These two idiots are in fact being so bold to say others should not run. Having a check and balance is what we want not stilted communication. That is why there are primaries to choose the ultimate candidate. Behave Hillary and Edwards!!

    July 15, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  20. Janet Lucile, Cleveland, OH

    Poor Dennis. What he fails to say is when is opponent, Barbara Anne Ferris, wanted to debate him at the Cleveland City Club, he declined. Why? Because he knew she would pulvarize him with the facts. And the facts are he has done nothing for his district since being a Congressman. This guy is nothing but a grand-stander. How can anyone take him seriously?

    July 16, 2007 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. Carolyn, LA, CA

    The media makes celebrity politicians, because our society is a fast food democracy... we want the media to bear the responsibility of knowing what's going on in our government and with our presidential candidates... whatever happened to going your American butt to the free library and reading up on the history of some of these candidates? Unfortunately most won't do that, so they'll pick whoever the celebrities pick or who is most charismatic or good at talking and there goes the country... read up on your political issues and your political candidates and don't speak on the media... you wouldn't rely so much on their coverage if you were really seeking to use and appreciate your freedom.

    July 18, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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