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)

    Well this is not NEW NEWS we know how calculated she is and of course her staff is going to take responsibility for this action!! Please America wake UP!! She so remind me of Bush they do a lot of sneaky crap!! I do not trust that I'm sorry and I will try everything to deliver SOUTH CAROLINA to BARACK OBAMA!!!

    November 10, 2007 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  2. BDC, Phila PA


    The candidate has to know who is planted in order to call on them. There is no more, "someone in the campaign did it" or "Hillary herself didn't know" she's directly involved in doing something really DISHONEST here. Not only is she "making her points heard" these tactics take time away from LEGITIMATE questions that real Americans may want to ask at these opportunities. Any candidate that does this doesn't really care what what the voters think at all, they just want to GET ELECTED AT ALL COSTS. I'll vote for just about anyone but Hillary, she's only in this for herself.

    November 10, 2007 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  3. Ron , Fort Mohave Az

    Oh hell, that kind of thing has been going on since Lincolns time. You don't rally think that politicians can think that fast do you? Most of them would cry if they were asked a question they didn't know the answer too. Haven't you ever noticed that the real importent questions never get asked? About Oil, about gas prices, about exporting jobs, theirs a few more hundred I would like to have the answers to, But the news people will never ask. You see, they are prompted too. Ronnie Reagan came to where I worked when he was running for pres. I was told to ask about the Latino unrest and what he was going to do about it. You cannot believe how quick he had the answers.

    November 10, 2007 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  4. Axel, RKDA, California

    I can't decide which makes me yawn more... Stories like this one that are not in the least bit newsworthy, or responses like the ones here by people who should be smart enough to know when they are wasting their time but don't.

    Think about this for a moment or two... And remember, who you vote for in a Presidential Election has no bearing on who actually gets to be President. As you may recall from your fifth grade social studies class, who becomes President is not decided by who wins the Popular Vote, but who is selected by The Electoral College.

    Perhaps instead of squabbling over what Candidates say or do, how much they pay for a haircut, whether they pay for their lunch, or how much they do or do not tip their waiter, you might start writing letters to your Elected Representatives asking who the Electors for your State are, and how they came to be the Electors since you most likely did not vote for them.

    As we saw in 2000, he who wins the Popular Vote does not always become President. After all, it is those Electors who actually elect the President... Not YOU.

    November 10, 2007 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  5. Moe, NY still have my vote, but, stop with the BUSH TACTICS. I find this article, if true, very distrubing. American citizens are not going to put up with any part of BUSH for the future. I think you need to rein in your campaign staff....LOL...again, if true, the college campus of America was the wrong place to is the young who, at least I think so, are the most honest.

    November 10, 2007 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  6. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Of course, whatever Hillary says is 'canned and planned.' The woman is neither inately smart nor intelligent enough to handle any 'fresh and honest question' from an audience member. Of course, she needs a scapegoat....why not an Innocent Student? What a Moronic female is Hillary. She's just not savy about anything. The only thing she has proven is that she can memorize facts, and sometimes screws those up also.
    Get REAL, Libs, Hillary is NOT Presidential Material....

    November 10, 2007 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  7. Drew, Oceanside, CA

    I think it is perfectly fine for Hillary to do this. They are just students and do not know what questions to ask her. We already know that Hillary will make the best president. Why do we need to hear the questions of some students who don't know anything? This way Hillary can move on from useless things like campaigning and can get on with running this country.

    November 10, 2007 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  8. Fair,Washington, DC

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

    I tend to think they all probably do this when they have a topic they want to talk about....but unlike others on here i 'm not saying this as fact...but i'll take my cue from the candidates themselves...its one thing to send messages to the media anonymously but its a whole other thing to speak on it publicly and your campaign is doing the same thing....that would be akin to political suicide if that came i'm curious to see which candidate if any makes a stink about this publicly...

    November 10, 2007 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  9. Michael Collins, Iowa city, Iowa

    I think that it was unfortunate that
    it was staged. But what everyone at work
    is talking about is Hilliary
    Clinton alleged affair with her female
    aide, Huma Abedin. It is all over the
    internet, 92,000 entries. They say
    that she is muslim and was taught in
    Saudi Arabia.

    November 10, 2007 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  10. Bob G

    All hail her royal sleaze-bag..! This woman is just plain vile..! Does she actually have a stand on anything..? There are much better Dem candidates...

    November 10, 2007 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  11. EE

    Yes why would she not. She would ferry in people even from Saudi Arabia for her campaign.

    Check her staff Abedin!Ms. Abedin began working for Mrs. Clinton as an intern for the then First Lady in 1996. She was hired as a staff assistant to the First Lady’s chief of staff, Maggie Williams. For several years, she was the backup to Mrs. Clinton’s permanent personal aide, Allison Stein, and she officially took over as Mrs. Clinton’s aide and advisor around the time of the 2000 Senate race.

    Her Presidential campaign title is “traveling chief of staff."
    Google informs us that Abedin's mother is Saleha Mahmood Abedin, Vice-Dean of Institutional Advancement, Dar Al-Hekma College, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

    Thats out first woman president!

    November 10, 2007 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  12. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Meet the Clintons.

    November 10, 2007 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  13. TC Orlando

    Clinton = status quo. Same Washington bull****.

    November 10, 2007 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  14. Antonio, Tempe AZ

    What kind of idiots does she have running her campaign? Did she think she'd go to Grinnell and not get asked about the environment?

    I'm trying hard to like Hillary but stuff like this just makes her look sleezy. It takes the focus off her environmental policies and puts it on her slimeball election staff.

    November 10, 2007 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  15. Mason Myatt

    This tactic shocks no one in America and no matter how loud the expressions of outrage, there is no genuine shock or anger. Most of us would employ this or a similar effort to ensure that we have the chance to address a point that we are eager to express. It was simply a topical question that Clinton wanted to address and there is nothing wrong with asking someone to ask it. Given the culture of modern politics, this is a non-event.

    Remember the Bush efforts to grab votes from McCain in 2000 by calling South Carolinians and informing them of McCain's "colored" child? Now THAT is a questionable tactic that leaves Clinton's staging of a question in its dust!

    We'd do better discussing Clinton's policies and comparing hers to the Bush legacy of corruption andf war. Discssion of something this inane and asinine is little more than a diversionary tactic. This "question" debate does not really "offend" anyone except people who despise Hillary to begin with and their "outrage" is hypocritical given their silence in the wake[s] of all Bush's lies and distortions.

    November 10, 2007 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  16. Mason Myatt

    EC, I am curious. What is the difference between "inately smart" and "intelligent?" Your tortured syntax suggests that maybe your strong suit lies not with your ability to assess the coignitive skills of others. Even Hillary's most vocal opponents credit her with a fine mind. I have chatted with her one time years ago and she is extraordinary in her facility with data and interpretation of those data. Her policies may be questionable but her intelligence is not.

    The "inate" bias in your comments says a lot more about you than it does about H.

    November 10, 2007 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  17. Mason Myatt


    My apologies to the other readers for not having my act together in this forum.

    November 10, 2007 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  18. Marcus J. Hopkins, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    This is ridiculous that this is even an issue. So what? Every presidential candidate in the history of politics has planted questions in the audience that were geared to make them look like the better candidate and highlight their best points. This is nothing new. Why does the news media insist upon acting like this is an act of corruption? I'm not a Republican, and if this is what the Democratic party has to offer in the way of "rooting out corruption," then I am certainly no longer a Democrat. Perhaps your news organisation should actually be focusing on the answer that was given as opposed to the question that was asked and why.

    November 10, 2007 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  19. Mark Columbus, Ohio

    This doesn't surprise me at all. Typical Clinton trick...and she'll probably be our next Prez. Oh joy of joys!

    November 10, 2007 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  20. Steve, New York

    Hillary Clinton=George Bush

    Sick and tired of these family dynasties!

    November 10, 2007 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  21. mark wilkes barre pa

    same tired old thing,,, see people ?? Its not one side of the fence that lies or makes up things or stages fake questions or interviews,, Its both sides working US !! We are the fools who hop on there band wagons and buy there junk faithfully. when are we going to learn from the same events happening over and over ? Let us all turn on the hatemongers who spew there garbage on these sites and demand better from our government. WE ARE NOT STUPID !!!!!!

    November 10, 2007 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  22. Helen, NY

    This is just a scratch on the surface. There are lot of things Hillary does which are not published by the media. Moreover, blame George Bush for everything. Imagine the greatest country in the world has such pathetic leaders standing for elections. Get a life...

    November 10, 2007 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  23. Deak, Texas

    And this surprises who?

    November 10, 2007 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  24. Glenn,Birmingham,Al

    Clinton is just doing what she does best. Deceive!!

    November 10, 2007 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  25. Melissa Jacobsen Dallas, Texas

    Hillary Clinton will do whatever underhanded things she can to win and this is typical of the Clinton Dirty Tricks Brigade. Al Gore stated that he did not want to run for President because he knows how dirty the Clintons get when they cannot get what they want. I hope the deluded voters who are so hungry for a female president wait to vote for a female with integrity and who has the courage of her convictions, unlike Hillary Clinton, who's on ly convictions are lying and power.

    November 10, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
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