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. Mary, NYC

    Greed, Envy, Jealously, Legacy... all the things the Clintons love and we should NOT be the ones giving it to them.

    Say NO to Billary. We are not responsibility for helping them build their Washington legacy!

    November 10, 2007 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Michael, Houston TX

    Oh my gosh, this is the first time a pre-planned question has ever been asked in a campaign! Public execution time...hahahaha grow up you sanctimonious whiners!

    Note to the Campaign, guys get rid of your grad school operatives, and next time just get a trusted person in your campaign to ask the question – no law against any of this, and it will allow you to state your position without relying on some flighty college student to keep his or her mouth shut...

    Also, on this and the "I'm a girl/woman" thing that is being blown ou of context and proportion, IGNORE it – do NOT address it further, the more you allow yourselves to be dragged into this is more time off message – don't allow it, just ignore it and it WILL go away, remember we all have a short attention span and the media more than us.

    Good luck

    November 10, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Karen,ny

    Something is not right with her. I don't even know who she(?) is. I would like to know where these "names" are coming from because this is not ethical and I am very annoyed about this.

    November 10, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Biggdawg

    Plant questions? Hell, Bush planted entire audiences during his campaigns.

    They all do it. Get over it.

    November 10, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Fred Seattle

    This is nothing new...all canidates plant questions.

    November 10, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    Who thinks that all politicians do not pull things like this whenever they can get away with it? Naive.

    November 10, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Jeff from Jersey

    A page right out of the republican and FOX NEWS playbook.It may or may not have happened but the rest of the questioning was real by a broad cross section of te student population.At least it's not the "invitation only" crowds the republicans specialize in.They script everything,except for McCain's 95 year old mommy.

    November 10, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Phyllis, Burlington, VT

    I suspect there are Republican plants in this comment section, trying to tear down Sen. Clinton . Personally, I would vote for her over any of the Republican dwarves.

    That said, I would prefer Gore or Obama over Clinton. But if either of them got the nomination, it would not take long for the GOP to shift its efforts to demonizing them too.(Wooden Al, the exaggerator! Barack "Osama," the uppity neophyte!) Unfortuately, the media loves to play along with these crude GOP efforts.

    November 10, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. DH, Flagstaff, AZ

    America is waiting for something more that what this phoney can offer.... Honestly, bipartisanship, compromise, morality, ethics, and charisma. This woman has NONE of these attributes.

    November 10, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. proudamericancitizen, Florida

    As a 28-year-old registered voter, I have to say that this election is the first time that I've paid close attention to all of the candidates and their positions. In the past, I just had a glib understanding of the candidates and admittedly voted based on my party's (democratic) nominee.

    However, with this election, I've narrowed my choices for president down to two candidates: BARACK OBAMA and RON PAUL. Those two choices aren't etched in stone, but what IS etched in stone is who I'm NOT voting for: HILLARY CLINTON.

    Reason for Paul: I sincerely believe that Paul says what he means and means what he says. Paul may be a has-ran, which bothers me a little. However, his position on the Iraq war, his sincere interest in restoring America's positive reputation in the world, and more importantly, his support from the AMERICAN PEOPLE are qualities that I admire in Paul. He is my republican choice for President.

    Reasons for Obama: Obama is a uniter. He wants Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and more importantly, AMERICANS to come together. His appeal to the young, old, black, white, asian, hispanic, disabled, women etc. is for a reason: he, like Ron Paul, have an undying love for America and want what's best for the country. He hasn't, and probably won't ever, pull the "race" card and I think will serve our country well. He has great judgment, great charisma, and is well-respected. He, too, opposed the Iraq war, and is willing to have an open dialogue with leaders of rogue nations, in addition to friendly nations, thus ensuring that America repairs the damage to its reputation in the world. He is my democratic choice for President.

    Reasons I'm NOT for Hillary: Hillary is too scary. She is a politician in the truest sense of the word: keeps you guessing about her positions; says one thing in front of one group and something else in front of another; and takes a legitimate attack on her and spins it into something else. As President, Hillary would have a tough time getting legislation passed because she is very DIVISIVE. Yes, she's been in the White House, which is a plus; however, she was there as a FIRST LADY; not as a PRESIDENT. Regardless of what people say, IT IS NOT THE SAME. It's just like me observing senate meetings and then touting that as my experience when I RUN FOR SENATE: the two aren't the same.
    Hillary is smart; Hillary is very capable to be President under normal circumstances, but Hillary is also very polarizing and very divisive. She is NOT honest, and she pulled the gender card in the last debate, which basically ruled her out for me. I can't imagine the leader of the free world playing the victim when confronted by serious issues. For those reasons, HILLARY IS NOT READY TO LEAD and SHE WILL NOT GET MY VOTE.

    I think Obama and Paul are in the best position to serve the AMERICAN PEOPLE. Hillary is in the best position to serve HERSELF, SPECIAL INTERESTS, and PARTISAN POLITICS.

    I don't care what the media/analysts/experts say about their presidential predictions of a Clinton vs. Guliani race. Every Saturday morning, the media/analysts/experts also make football predictions, and not all of them turn out to be right. Then they say a team was "upset" by the team they predicted was going to win.

    Well, my vote is for OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT if he gets the democratic nod. If he doesn't, then I'm switching parties and voting for RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT.

    I can't wait for the "upset".


    November 10, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Daniel, NY

    Still a new national poll has Clinton expanding her lead against Rudy Giuliani.

    November 10, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. Greg, Phoenix, AZ


    Another HUGE stumble for "Ms. Inevitable."

    I expect to see MANY stories regarding this on CNN next week (not on the weekend when CNN usually tries to dump the negative stories against Hillary).


    November 10, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. John P NYC

    How anyone can support this facist war monger who flip/flops more than a fish out of water is beyond me. People think that if they vote for Hillary they will also be getting Bill, people it's not going to happen. This facist won't let hubby near the oval office. This is one scary women, she wants to nuke Iran! Just what we need another war this time with nuclear weapons. This women will be as bad as, if not worse, than Bush.

    November 10, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. Jennifer, Evergreen, CO

    Why is this not a bigger story? Have the fake news stories and press coferences put forth by this administration not taught us anything about trying to manipulate the message? Shouldn't Hilary be held to task for this behavior based on the campaign she says she is running?

    November 10, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. proudamericancitizen, Florida

    by the way, if Hillary plants questioners, isn't it possible that she's planting "pollsters" to make people believe that she's the frontrunner? Things that make you go hmmmmmmm....

    November 10, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    I assume that most of you have not worked in a presidential campaign by the naivete of your comments!!

    ALL campaigns do this to get across the message of the day, even though they'll now play coy and won't admit it. The girl was prodded to ask a particular question but she herself was not a plant. There have been campaigns where a person was brought in just to ask a certain question, this is not what appears to have been the case. Also, notice how fast the rival campaigns emailed the media.

    It's politics folks, it's the big leagues and it's a multimillion dollar business. No politician that reaches this level has done so by being innocent as the driven snow.

    November 10, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. amir, anaheim CA

    "One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask]'
    Do not we all voters are barked at (to get attention) by the Media pundits how we have to think, why we have to vote or not vote particular candidate?
    Look at number of Political Pundits (totally polarized fanatically) in the media whose goal is only to plant their dogmatic views (mostly self serving) on voters mind?

    Wake up voters. Do not listen to these craps like ” that one is holier than other”. All politicians in one way or the other are crooks. It is the last resort to scoundrels.
    You got to choose the one that is least harmful to this great country; you have plenty of time to do that – a year. Till then, just watch the fun. Do not get planted.

    November 10, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Josie San Diego CA

    I need to see a woman as President of the United States. Maybe that will help break the glass ceiling a bit more. Am tired of hitting my head on it and I am tired of the Bush Administration and the way the religious right orders them around.

    Go Hilary!!!

    November 10, 2007 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. RuthieM

    She is just like Bush, she's really not for the people, just for Clinton. At her press conferences in the white house her reporters will be planted too, making sure they ask only the questions she wants to answer and making sure she pulls the answer out of her can. Ugghh, another 4 or 8 years of this same stuff? Who needs it? Not America, not me. I'm thoroughly sick of the Bush years and I see no different if Hillary Clinton was president. In fact, it would probably be worse because she would add an element of crybaby. I don't think Hillary is tough at all, no tougher than any other woman. It is the 'tough image' they want to project, a false image, and that is why she has tried to remain silent on all issues hoping to simply coast through the primaries. She in fact has performed poorly at all the debates not answering questions and the only reason everyone said she 'won' was because the moderators never challenged her when she didn't answer the questions, they all let her get away with not answering the questions, but then she went up against Tim Russert and the dam pipes burst and the real Hillary was exposed, the empty Hillary.

    November 10, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Brian, Boston, MA

    Hillary die-hard supporters are no more objective about her than O.J.'s murder trial jury. It doesn't matter how many facts are presented to expose her as a calculating, win-at-all costs phoney, or worse, she is still some sort of icon for them. Ask yourself people, what if all, or even some,of the claims are true?

    November 10, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Chuck Adkins Lincoln Park, Michigan

    But it's okay of Bush does it. he's Republican, ya know...


    P.S. Bet CNN ain't get this guts to approve this...

    November 10, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Coco, Carson City, Nv

    Every citizen that is voting needs to vote for the best person to do the job.
    I do not believe Hillary is even close to it.
    She dropped her attempts to get medical coverage so hubby could be president, fair enough.
    But, why didn't she doi anything after he was elected or even when she became senate in New York.
    She is a YES person.
    And this has nothing to do with her being a women, it is that she is feeding you a line of bull and you're eating it up.
    Open your eyes!!!

    November 10, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. Dazed and Confused in DC

    OK you sanctimonious SOBs: every one of you who has not suggested a question to be asked at one of your events, or worse, had a supporter with a pre-scripted question show up, raise your hand. Not you, Phony John Edwards? Shocking. And you, Saint Barack, why isn't your hand up? I am shocked! Horrified!

    November 10, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. JV, Seattle, WA

    If, and a big "If" at that, this woman wins the WH, she will be so polarizing and divisive that abolutely nothing will get done. It will be stalemate extrodinaire! To the Hillary supporters out there, what have you accomplished? Come on Dems, nominate Obama!!!

    November 10, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Keith, Pittsburgh, PA

    If you want a real candidate who can answer real questions and can handle tough situations, then look no further than Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul for President 2008!

    November 10, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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