November 10th, 2007
11:07 AM ET
15 years ago

Questions planted by Clinton campaign

Sen. Hillary Clinton discusses her energy plan in Newton, Iowa on Tuesday.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign admitted late Friday that a staffer spoke to potential questioners at a recent event, but denied that the New York Democrat had any knowledge about what she would be asked by the audience.

Grinnell College’s “Scarlet and Black” newspaper reported a student’s account of being pulled aside before a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa and asked to pose a specific question.

“They were canned,” Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff claimed in an interview with the newspaper. “One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask].”

Gallo-Chasanoff said she was told that the campaign wanted the question, about what Clinton would do for the environment, to be asked by a college student. She said Clinton was prompted to call on her as well as another student seen in conversation with staffers prior to the event.

The Clinton campaign did not dispute talking to the student, but dismissed suggestions the senator was following a script that would ensure she only received friendly questions.

“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. This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again.”

Several of Clinton's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination contacted news organizations, including CNN, to bring attention to the college newspaper's story.

Related: Watch Clinton's controversial question

Related: Obama: We don't plant questions

Related: Democratic rivals respond to Clinton's planted question

Click here to see CNN's new political portal:

- CNN's Mark Norman in Atlanta and Chris Welch in Iowa.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iowa
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Jim Garrison, Evergreen, Colorado

    Of Course this was canned. Hil is being picked on if she doesn't have a script to follow.

    November 9, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  2. Matt from Iraq

    Oh boy, here we go again. This is ridiculous. Soon the Clinton campaign is going to run out of ways to explain all these less-than-honest mistakes. Is this really the type of administration we want in the White House?

    November 9, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  3. Lioness, Washington DC

    Clinton News Network, you wrote:

    "Several of Clinton's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination contacted news organizations, including CNN, to bring attention to the college newspaper's story."

    Oh, I see, so the Clinton campaign NEVER calls all media organizations it can get hold of to plant negative stories about its ricals?

    Is that what you are trying to suggest?

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! That's too funy!

    November 9, 2007 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. Milly, Atlanta, GA

    Well, it helps to have anticipated questions when you have programed answers, Go girl!

    November 9, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  5. Dennis, Springfield, IL

    Curious if Clinton did not know that student was a plant, was it simply a lucky coincidence that in the big crowd she just happened to call on the very same person. Hmmmm. And by the by, kind of ironic given the argument she got into when she accused a legitimate questioner of being a plant a month or so back in Iowa. Why did she think that to begin with? Was it because her campaign plants questions, so she assumes that everyone is unethical as her?

    November 10, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  6. Jun, Los Angeles, CA


    November 10, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  7. Anonymous

    This is the latest in a series of examples of why Clinton and her political machine can't be trusted. Even if Hillary herself didn't know of or sanction the question-planting, she has clearly created a culture within her campaign where this kind of thing is okay. Yes, she's smart, yes, she's well-organized, yes, she could make a pretty decent leader of the country. But when it comes down to someone I can trust or someone like Clinton, whom I clearly can't, I will choose the former every time, even if I don't agree with all of their views. There are enough trustworthy candidates with integrity in this race - Dodd, Obama, Paul, Huckabee, McCain, - that I cannot fathom voting for Clinton.

    November 10, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  8. Ken, San Diego, CA

    Who cares?

    All of the candidates do this, especially when they have recently unveiled a particular policy plan or idea (i.e., Clinton's unveiling of her environment and energy plan just a few days ago).

    What's more important is that she is not taking just the softballs, but the hardballs as well. In addition, her town-hall meetings and speaking engagements are open to EVERYONE (unlike what the Bush campaign did in 2000 and 2004).

    Perhaps the silliest thing in this story, is the utter hyprocrisy of Hillary's rivals: "Several of Clinton's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination contacted news organizations...". As John Stossel would day, give me a break...

    November 10, 2007 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  9. tapera, toronto

    Way to go girl!!

    November 10, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  10. RS, Los Angeles, CA

    My goodness! Hillary Clinton is being accused of planting questions in her campaign stop audiences?!? I am completely dumbfounded and shocked. Let's elect a candidate who actually has the courage to field real questions and respond with honest answers.

    November 10, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  11. pk

    the clintons have manipulated the media this entire time.

    the chips are only now falling

    November 10, 2007 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  12. Bernie Moore-Knowles - Papa'aloa, Hawai'i

    I am not at all surprised by this short. Clinton staging "friendly" questions and scripting her interaction with a crowd at a campaign stop? When will American voters "get it" regarding this woman. I cringe to think that she is even in the race. And by the way, I am a life long registered Independent – not a Republican – and a woman.

    November 10, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  13. Greg, Houston TX

    These are the kinds of things politicians do. They're in the business of being fake human beings. Why would anyone be surprised by this?

    November 10, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  14. annette columbus

    And this would surprise anyone why? Everything she does is orchestrated and canned. She isn't known for being spontaneous and genuine.

    November 10, 2007 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  15. Ernest, Pasadena, CA

    Campaign for change? Sounds like FEMA to me.

    November 10, 2007 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Slick Willy will explain it in the morning. I'd expect a wagging finger for emphasis.

    It's Bush's' fault.

    Right wing conspiracy

    I did it, it's not her fault.

    or the ever popular

    I did not give those questions to that student!

    I would not trust this woman to lead a starving man thru a chow line.

    November 10, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  17. banko

    CNN will still not report the facts. The truth is finally coming out.
    Hillary is phony. The Clinton's can not foul the people all the time.

    Clinton Staff Planted Question at Forum

    Clinton Campaign Confirms Planting Town Hall Question, Says It Won't Happen Again,2933,310316,00.html

    Clinton aides plant student's question

    November 10, 2007 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  18. Kookleft

    Clinton campaign staffers planted questions among the audience, but Hillary didn't know? Yeah, that would make sense. Plant a couple of questions in the audience, then hope that Hillary can guess who those questioners might be. Sure.

    This is simply more Machiavellian stagecraft from the masters of "how can we fool them today?" These people lie as often and as easily as I breathe air.

    November 10, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  19. JC , USA

    Oh please...they ALL do is called 'making sure the candidates views get heard'. Typical politics for ALL candidates for ALL parties! Not news kids...

    November 10, 2007 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  20. Scott Brown Palm Bay, Florida

    Hillary is not a serious contender for the President Of The United States. She has not answered one question directly and she has now stooped to planted questions. Hillary you can not hide behind the tough questions and under husband and be given the keys to the most powerful office in the world.

    November 10, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  21. Jaik , chicago, IL

    Just like George Bush Jr who had a plant in the White House press room to throw softballs at the spokesperson, just like FEMA's fake press conference, just like Guliani's scripted cell phone calls. Its all just new political staging, that's one more reason none of these people should be president. They think you are stupid. and we'll find out they are probably right again on election day.

    November 10, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. theprofessional

    Kind of reminds you of all the stage-managed presidential "Q&A forums" by the Bush administration, where they plant people in the audience to make sure nobody asks the President a question he doesn't want to answer. Or the fake FEMA news conference last month.

    Here's my question: Seeing as how Hillary authorized and supported George Bush's war (until it became unpopular), supported George Bush's torture methods (until it became unpopular), and is now running George Bush's political playbook (until it becomes unpopular), what exactly are we voting for in 2008 again?

    November 10, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  23. Gitahi, Dallas TX

    Can i get a "Dean" everyone. I have said and maintained all along that Senator Clinton may be shrewed but she will end up outdoing herself. As we have heard her peaking too soon and having huge margin of leads in polls, we all know they have been pulling dirty tricks. All is good time Queen B, all in good time. You will crash down so heavily that a book on your losing run will be abest seller. So much fo the polls and invincibility. Will Bill come up now and say its his fault?

    November 10, 2007 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  24. Earl, Ohio

    She is such a stick in the mud. At least Al Gore didn't pretend not to be in 2000. Hillary's laugh is like fignernails across a chalkboard. Her sense of humor isn't far behind that either.

    P.S. Has anyone figured out her stance on illegal immigrants and driver's licenses yet?!?!

    November 10, 2007 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  25. Damien, Las Vegas Nevada

    It's amazing that CNN didn't put this story on the front page... but hey, they aren't biased!?!?!?!?!?!

    November 10, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
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