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. Joe, Manchester, VT

    Very much in character and shows a complete disconnect with proper campaigning and total disrespect for the American vote. The Clinton "character" questions continue and grow. Shame!

    November 10, 2007 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  2. JB Boston MA

    Where is Tom from NM and pat from Huntington-

    In order to at least pretend you are fair, you have got to denounce this. You would have posted 50 times if Obama had done this.

    The sinking ship called the USS Hillary has almost run out of lifeboats. Get in now, or drown.

    It will be interesting to see where her votes go, Obama or Edwards.

    November 10, 2007 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  3. Elisabeth

    CNN, serve the American people and put this on the front page. You keep telling us she's the inevitable one to be the next leader of the free world.

    Everyone deserves to know.

    Do what's right.

    Thanks in advance.

    November 10, 2007 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  4. Michelle D.-Atlanta

    Why the outrage? This is done all the time by ALL candidates from BOTH sides of the political parties all the time. Bush won't even allow anyone who is not a Republican to attend one of his forums.

    When will America wake up and see the business of politics for what it really is? This is no longer a country "of the people, by the people and FOR the people".

    This is the BUSINESS of "elect-ability". They pay big dollars to professional marketers who pay close attention to polls and tell the candidates what they need the American people to hear so they can get elected.

    Are we THAT stupid??? I guess we are if we fell for Bush's "Truth" on the Iraq war.

    November 10, 2007 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. Anthony Palmer, Columbia, SC

    I personally believe these kinds of "gaffes" or small controversies are good for Democrats because they should provide Democratic voters with the information they need to make intelligent votes come the caucuses and primaries. Democrats who believe in open government, straight talk, and good ethics should not be surprised if they find that Hillary Clinton cannot deliver on these promises. They would be wise to nominate someone else. You can read more about why Clinton is a poor choice for the nomination here:

    November 10, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  6. Jack, Nashville, TN

    I am amazed that CNN would actually report the truth about Hillary Clinton and her sleazy campaign staff. What next? Will CNN ask Hillary why she had Sandy Berger to steal top secret documents from the National Archives vault. What were the secrets the Clinton's wanted destroyed? Why did Berger take the fall for Hillary? What will Berger get in return?

    November 10, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. GH, New York, ny

    It is funny that the rivals of hillary, who are insecured and full of hate, have constantly bashed her for what she did, or what she did not do for her past 16 yrs in DC. If questions were planted by a lower tier presidenital candidate, no one would care.

    To me, there is no big deal, as she could have talked about the environment issues herself without being asked by the audience.

    November 10, 2007 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  8. Anonymous, Ames, IA

    DUH! This shouldn't come as any surprise from the Clinton camp. These two are as phoney as they come. Kinda lends creedance, too, to the charges of a plant earlier on the topic of licensing of illegals. If I recall, the overwhelming majority of commenters suspected plants. I can't wait till they start talking about family values. I love "B" movie acting.

    November 10, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  9. PSK Lakeside, AZ

    SO just how different a president from Bush would Ms. Clinton be? To employ underhanded tricks seems innocuous, but to my mind it shows a significant arrogance in Ms. Clintons demeaner. This is ridiculous- she isn't even in office, and she's found to be manipulating and grossly disrespecting the American public. People, if you think this is a little "oops"- you are sadly mistaken. This is a blatant "preview" of exactly what this woman thinks of us simple minded voters. Not much will change in this country if she is elected. Her inability to respect Americans will not change. Her only agenda is the acquisition of more and more power.

    November 10, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  10. Sam Lutz, FL

    Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton is all I'm hearing/seeing from CNN. You do realize that there are other presidential candidates running on the Democratic ticket?

    You're making it real obvious, CNN.

    November 10, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  11. John, Detroit, Michigan

    every politician does this. and it wasn't one of her people actually asking the questions... one of her staffers just talked to a student to see if they would ask the question. She's on a tour to promote her new climate/environment plans. Wouldn't the question already come up?

    this woman can't do anything without you people hating on her. just let go of the hate. it's not healthy.

    November 10, 2007 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  12. Karen,ny

    If the candidates are going to start off on the wrong foot by having these kind of people in the audience then we certainly realize they are untrustworthy. She will certainly not get my vote. I want to start off with an honest president, if there is one.

    November 10, 2007 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  13. Anthony, Philadelphia, PA

    OK, first President Bush was accused of it and now Hillary Clinton. And while her staff claims she didn't know, I wouldn't be surprised if she did.

    These politicians have to realize they can do stuff like this anymore. We the public are going to find out eventually.

    Maybe it's the water in Washington but what makes politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, forget their common sense?

    November 10, 2007 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  14. Ron, TX

    Reminds me of the fake press conferences that FEMA and Bush always hold...

    At least she finally admitted something!

    November 10, 2007 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  15. Hank, Fort Myers, FL

    Oh well, whatever works in politics. Almost reminds of the rent-a-crowd we had here in McCain came to town. Don't look for this to change. That is politics. And not one of these participants will turn over the hand-book or is above a little engineering on the campaign trail. I'm not suprised at all. This has been part of politics since the it's inception–remember how they used to offer free drinks on election day==and of course voting was done near, in, or next to the Saloon. This is why America is such a great country...the land of opportunism.

    November 10, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  16. Vern, Mason Ohio

    It's what we don't know and what she has gotten away with that bothers me.

    November 10, 2007 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  17. Tim, Cincinnati, OH

    The Clintons are political manipulators. They'll do anything to get back in power.

    November 10, 2007 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  18. Ayyub, Richmond

    Hillary…you 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 go…it is the young who, at least I think so, are the most honest.

    Posted By Moe, NY : November 10, 2007 3:15 am

    I'm sorry Moe but Hillary doesn't know how to stop, that's just her. If you support a person who says one thing and does another and is possibly totally scripted, I hope you look deep down in your heart and ask yourselfe actually why you're voting for this woman. "Because she's a WOMAN" is a bad chose. It has to be "Because she's the absolute best person or the job and will change this nation for the better." Sorry, but as time goes on I really see that's really not Hillary.

    November 10, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  19. DEF, Norfolk VA

    "On this occasion?" Right... And the next occassion, and the next occasion, and the next... I'm not surprised at all.

    November 10, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  20. Vince Foster, Little Rock, AR

    Golly!! Hey, it wasn't Hillary's fault. It's all part of a extreme right-wing conspiracy. Hillarity is as honest as her dear husband, Bill Clinton, my dear friend.

    November 10, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  21. Rick, North Carolina

    She is no different than the others.
    It would be nice if a real citizen could run for office, but who has that kind of corporate money but an political actor. The system is so rigged that its like watching a wrestling match on TV, maybe that's what this country has come to.

    November 10, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  22. Ron, TX

    Reminds me of the fake press conferences that FEMA and Bush always hold…

    At least she finally admitted something!

    Here's the transcript of the actual question being asked... it really makes the news story better, wonder why CNN left it out.
    Question: "As a young person, I'm worried about the long-term effects of global warming How does your plan combat climate change?

    Clinton: "Well, you should be worried. You know, I find as I travel around Iowa that it's usually young people that ask me about global warming."

    OF COURSE, Clinton pleads ignorance. "She didn't know about planting questioners." Any time something bad happens, she doesn't EVER seem to know anything... Doesn't know this Norman Hsu character and the source of his $850,000 in campaign donations. Doesn't know how her law firm's billing documents got into her White House closet... Doesn't know how investors turned $10,000 of her money into $100,000 trading cattle futures... Just doesn't know ANYTHING...

    Also worth noting John Edward's elloquent and funny response: as opposed to Clinton's claim of the "politics of piling on"... John Edwards says this must be "the politics of planting questions."

    November 10, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  23. Vote for Hillary Online

    I'm getting sick of this smear campaign against Hillary. It's no wonder she has to hire reporters, it's the only way she'll get a fair and honest question. People tend to forget that sometimes you need to bend the rules to get elected, and if you don't believe that, you're ignorant.

    November 10, 2007 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  24. smoothfin, Port Washington, WI

    shows what sort of anything-goes people she's surrounding herself with. its high entertainment, watching the Democratic candidates turn themselves into the biggest joke since the current administration.

    November 10, 2007 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Terri, Plantation, FL

    From the original story by Grinnell's Scarlet & Black:

    "She also noted that staffers prompted Clinton to call on her and another who had been approached before the event."

    There is no 'if' Clinton knew they were plants..she knew. Period.

    Add to this the following stories: reveals Clinton campaign behind the scenes sliming of opponents

    Hillary's staged diner visit

    As many have stated, this is not something anyone should be really surprised by. She hired Mark Penn, the moral equivalent of Karl Rove, to run her campaign. Hillary Clinton will run her White House with the same honesty, transparency and integrity that this administration has run it. If you are surprised by this, you haven't been paying attention.

    CNN may be, for all intents and purposes, the Clinton News Network, but fortunately enough of us see through that and Senator Clinton.

    Did someone up thread actually say her campaign had to do this because the students probably didn't know what to ask her? Note to Hillary supporters...step away from the Kool-aid!

    November 10, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10