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. Kim, Sacramento, CA

    I am absoutely blown away that there are people out there still supporting Hillary Clinton! How can you not see what a Clinton administration will be? I am a complete and total homer with regards to Barack Obama but if stories like this came out about Barack along with recent behavior/waffling/lying like Hillary has been doing I'd write him off! Open your eyes people and realize that your vote for President really does matter and really does make a difference in your life. For example, gas was $1.55 a gallon when Bush took office – I filled up last night at $3.22.

    November 10, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. RC, Columbia, MD

    Why would anyone in their right mind vote for this woman. Remember the caustic partisan environment in DC really got of the ground during the Clinton years and is getting worse by the day. Enough of these slime balls. Vote for chance, not Hillary!!!!!!

    November 10, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Scott, Greenville, NC

    "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."

    Yes, if she gets the presidency it won't be too long before she hires a homosexual prostitute to ask softball questions in the Washington press corps! Er...why does that sound familiar?

    Clinton, Bush, Guiliani...what's the difference nowadays. They play the same style of politics, this shouldn't be a surprise.

    November 10, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. Chimpeach Bush, Burbank, Ca

    This is such a silly little trivial thing in the scheme of things in what will be a long and important campaign. Her explanation sounds reasonable enough. There will be plenty of mistakes in both parties. But it's fun for smug Republicans to complain. They seem to forget that at each and every Bush campaign speech they had operatives planted in the audience to throw 'ol smirk a few sofballs which him and Cheney or him and Rove doubtless rehearsed a few times so the ever eloquent Bush would be able to answer at least a few w/o flubbing the answer and twisting his tongue. At most speeches in 2004 Bushes people were militant in keeping out anyone they deemed a risk who might ask Bush a pointed question or anyone who wore a shirt that said anything they didn't want Bush to see or to have shown on TV, such as Kerry '04 or Impeach Bush. During a debate with John Kerry in 04 most will recall Bush even had a very obvious radio receiver tucked in under the back of his jacket so someone could feed him the GOP talking points, that still makes me chuckle to this day! -And he still lost the debate against Kerry (big surprise, huh!) I honestly don't doubt Hillary will have her people keep out anyone they dont want in their audience either. Any strident anti-choice types, radical right war supporters, what have you, probably will be banned. The bottom line is all Hillary and the Democrats need to do is ask ONE simple question of their audience to win the '08 election and the Republicans will become all but extinct from public office for at least the next 4 years, maybe far longer – "ARE YOU BETTER OFF NOW THAN YOU WERE IN 2000?" The answer is one NO Republican wants any of us to answer honestly, I'll tell ya that much. It will end their "reign of error" for a long while!

    November 10, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Jason Welch, Atlanta, GA

    Folks, this happens all the time with all of the candidates. Unfortunately, it is the result of a media and population-driven (yes, all of us) frenzy which forces our candidates to become freaking robots. If one of them makes mistake, as if they are not supposed to be human, we pounce on them and rip them up. Ridiculous! Let's face it! We Americans celebrate seeing others suffer. We live the 'dog-eat-dog' mentality everyday.

    November 10, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Rob

    Disgusting! What a disappointment her campaign is becoming.

    November 10, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    The current Republican motto seems to be "But Bill Did It" and it's terrible that Hillary would go the other way and use a Bush administration tactic.

    November 10, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Brad, Stockton, CA

    Forget about the questions; just can Hillary instead.

    November 10, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Darrel Iowa

    Hillary "IS" the plant>
    For Slick Willy>(he wants back in so bad)
    Question for the open minded, Is she Arrogant? Canned? Waffler? Staged? Presidental Material?(this is a YES Or NO answer questionire, no waffling now)

    Huckabbe stands out thats for sure
    Fred might surprise you.

    Wish they were on an INDEPENTANT ticket instead of the same o same o bickering dems and repubs.
    We need new leadership, Lets throw the bums out in the next election. The are just plain num. This administraion can't even or won't try to control the borders of this country. ANY Sovergin Country and the Officials that represent them just don't represent the AMERICAN legal people of the Good Old USA! And drivers lisc for illegal imigrants!!! How about that!
    Wake Up America! Fred Thompson sure address the issues just mention above with clarity and NO WAFFLEING
    Thoughts and
    Concerns from an Independant from Iowa

    November 10, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. jfz

    Phoney questions...phonier candidate!

    November 10, 2007 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    There's no such thing as bad publicity. Hillary's camp knows that there's more dirt on the other side so why not admit to some minor mis-deed when it focuses attention on the major mis-deeds on the other side? It's called raising the bar. Plants are now fair-game and no republican can use them. Who's the real loser? Not Hillary.

    November 10, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Debbie

    Remember the soundbite of what Barack Obama said about Pakistan and terrorism and you remember Hillary Clinton calling Obama "NAIVE and INEXPERIENCED" because he thinks the US should go into Pakistan to stop terrorist is the Pakistani Government couldn't. Who do you think was right based on what's going on in Pakistan now? Pakistan's government is falling into chaos and terrorist are now known to be in the Pakistan's villages and mountainous areas in the NW. Will this and other recent happenings in the presidential race affect your vote?

    November 10, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. r sisk, nevada

    For the love of God people, do you really think this is a scandal. Campaigns have people planted to ask questions as well. Dumb-t Bush calls upon people he knows will ask certain questions in news conferences and he still can't answer the questions.

    We all know that Hillary has some enemies out there so somehow this story doesn't surprise me. Any slight stumble and they are going to pounce. Ahhh Politics.

    Get ready America. She will be our next President.

    November 10, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Christian, Tampa FL

    That's a very Bush-like thing to do. Remember when his campaign painted their own poster-board signs and handed them out to people? These kinds of campaigns are all about image, not necessarily about reality.

    November 10, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. janet,ny,nyc

    That is how she was prepared to be in all boys club.....Heck some woman one day for president but not this woman!

    November 10, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Sere, Cape Coral, FL

    Oh, Hilary.

    The people are on to you - Maybe you should start being a bit more honest and actually deal with questions you're not anticipating?

    Oh wait, then she'd claim her rivals planted those questions on her and accuse them of piling on again...

    Hilary knows what she was doing - The convienence of her picking out that same student and later claim they didn't give that person any questions to ask, a crock of bull. Dunno why anybody believes her and her followers.

    Either way, Hilary, the (smart) American people have their eyes on you. (:

    November 10, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Anonymous, Ames, IA

    "..."reign of error"..."

    Amuzing. Sound tought from "Fahrenheit 9/11", no doubt.

    November 10, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Diamond

    Now, that's a gotcha!

    The public hates Hillary Clintons- especially in Iowa. Can't she get it already?

    First the waitress, then the student. She lost two senior staff in Iowa already because they dared to tell her that she cannot win Iowa.

    Why doesn't she just drop out and save the Democratic party the embarassment of a major loss in 2008?

    November 10, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Jim in Orlando, FL

    Amazing ! I have read several Hillites say that the "unfair" questions are the truly "planted" ones, as they were not a part of the original script ! Silly me, what was I thinking that you was thinking that I was thinking that ......

    November 10, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Adam, Plano, TX

    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.
    Posted By Michelle D.-Atlanta : November 10, 2007 7:57 am

    michelle, the outrage i believe is because hillary is supposedly campaigning for change, and her campaign, thus far, has been the same, old hat politics. she has nothing new to offer in this race, and its things like this that do nothing but strengthen that point. i don't think Obama, Edwards, Kucinich, Dodd, or Richardson need to plant questions, they are all far more authentic than hillary, and don't need to script everything, but we'll see, if the other dem candidates release statements saying how wrong this is, its probably safe to assume they don't.

    November 10, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. Kevin Martin, New York, New York

    I would mortgage my house to actively campaign against this lying meglomaniac.

    Most of the pro-Hillary comments on this board pass this off as acceptable behavior. Just like Bill's infidelity. Like their passive attempt to control terrorism's growth in the late 90's. Why do you people insist on electing someone who is committed to immorality and mediocrity?

    November 10, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Philip, Austin, TX

    Wait. Maybe this was Bill Clinton's fault too?! It has to be. She is perfect right?? Amazing you CNN still manages to cast this in a softer light. Unbiased news did you say?

    November 10, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Mike, Houston TX

    Just another example that Hillary is a fake and cannot be trusted. She would script her whole life if she could. The truth is irrelevant to her.

    November 10, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |

    so we are seeing more of the same old clintons. seems from reading comments for months that people are seeing hillary for the person she really is.. her polling is high.. when questions are asked they are geared to answer the word hillary .. she is the best this the best that.. mark penn her pr and i might add bill's in those 90's is doing a great job of making her look like she is winning.. obama got more individual money .. and she is winning ? more spin.. i don't think our country right about now needs more spin and covering up lies and mistakes.. i hope all are tired of this. she has an agenda.. and it is not to unite the people of this country.

    November 10, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. laura,s.c

    I am an African American who was really inspired by clinton.....My daughter has been clinton fun but lately this woman has left us wondering if she can even be example of the girls that are growing looking up on them.......I tried to brush away the lobbyists things that she had done before and clinton sex scandal but honestly what Mrs. Clinton is doing nowdays on debates and on the campaign trail has made me focus on other candidates.....I think she is sinking in polls and she is doing anything to win.....Now I am supporting anybody but not her....

    November 10, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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