December 5th, 2007
12:40 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton 'plant' takes Obama by surprise

Obama was surprised by the student who said last month Clinton aides told her to ask a question.

GRINNELL, Iowa (CNN) - It would have been just another Q and A session. That is, if Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hadn't been on the campus of Grinnell College, home of freshman Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, also known as 'the Clinton plant.'

Just weeks ago, Gallo-Chasanoff was approached by a staffer on rival Hillary Clinton's campaign and given a question to ask the New York senator at an event in nearby Newton, Iowa.

RELATED: Student describes how she became a Clinton plant

But Tuesday night Obama joked, as he and other candidates often have since her story got out, that the questions he would receive had "not been pre-arranged."

The crowd erupted in cheers. Some pointed to Gallo-Chasanoff standing near the front of the audience.

"Is this the young lady right here?" Obama asked smiling. "Oh my goodness. I didn't know she was going to be here. I'm not going to call on her."

And he kept his word. But he did give her some one on one time while shaking hands afterward.

"Can I ask you one question?" Gallo-Chasanoff said.

Obama said 'yes' but teased her for "causing all this trouble."

She asked him if it were possible to reach such a high level in national politics without compromising one's morals.

"You don’t have to compromise who you are," Obama said. "You have to make compromises, but not your core values."

Gallo-Chasanoff declined to say whether or not she is supporting anyone at this point.

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Mohammad, LA CA

    Why is it such a big deal that Clinton asked someone to ask her a question? She obviously wants to highlight an issue. Honestly I was an Obama supporter and even donated to him and attended his speeches, but this guy is just plain dumb.

    His whole method of 'passive aggressiveness' is making me sick, man it up man, either attack her the way you're supposed to, or shut up, just don't try to act all innocent when you do it.

    'Different kind of politics'...yeah sure.

    Wish Al Gore would run to be honest.

    December 5, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. CB,Fishkill, NY

    Thank goodness Obama is not in Hillary's "league". If he were, he would also have 3 positions for each issue, change & flip-flop each week, claim that being a spouse is great experience, & send jobs overseas. ABH...Anyone But Hillary sounds great to more & more people.

    December 5, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. Tapera, Toronto

    "You don’t have to compromise who you are," Obama said. "You have to make compromises, but not your core values."

    That's why I'm voting for this man. That's unscripted, real and 100% right. We have to work together to defeat the common enemies: Terrorism, poverty, injustice and slumping economy. Republicans are not the enemy, they are Americans who disagree with us. There is a difference. Obama knows this, Hillary does not.

    Posted By Will, NYC : December 5, 2007 10:21 am

    You can't say it any better than this. It's not about beating the republicans. I wonde how long it will take for people to realise this

    December 5, 2007 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  4. George, Atlanta, GA

    Please...the girl should be the one being questioned on her morals. She is the one who accepted taking the question and infact, the question re: global warming is one someone would have asked anyway so what is the big deal? I am so annoyed by people like her who use this kind of unimportant incident (if one can even call it that) for her own media spotlight, her one second of fame and getting her face in front of a camera. I would hope someone her age would actually be concerned with the real issues like global warming or healthcare in the US than making a fool of herself. And I am disappointed by Mr. Obama that he would even entertain her.

    December 5, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    This is probably the most devastating moment I've seen yet in the collapse of Hillary Clinton's campaign. Hillary came off as shrill and dishonest with the "Clinton Plant" thing. Then the same girl meets Obama and he comes off as geniune as he really is, giving her great response about not losing touch with who we are.

    He's kicking Hillary's butt and I'm so grateful that we'll finally have a great man in office.

    Obama 08.

    December 5, 2007 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Aidyn, NY, NY

    Hillary wants the best for this country how about people start listening to what she has to say and then judge her.

    December 5, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. Nancy, Dallas, TX

    What a set-up! This story smacks of Obama trying to get some extra mileage from a past incident. He is smarmy and has a forked tongue – just listen to his double-speak! I hope his few percentage point of supporters wise up. What a phony!

    December 5, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  8. La'Kitgum, NH

    To Ike Woodbridge , VA.

    I totally agree with you. Democrats will regret the next 4 years if they elect Obama against Guliani or Romney. These 2 Republicans have resumes that only Clinton's and all other Democratic candidates except Obama's can withstand. Guiliani and Romney will will hit Obama with a type of experience that he will not resist.

    Some Democrats simply want to see Obama beat Clinton for the wrong reasons. But let them wait for an Obama slap by Guliani or Romney. Republican know they can get back the Whitehouse if any of the 2 candidates stood against Obama because Obama has nothing to show for experience which will be the cornerstone of Republican assault. Then Democrats will be biting their fingers after thinking the next Prez will be Democrat by hook or crook.

    December 5, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. lowell mass

    Hillary wants the best for this country how about people start listening to what she has to say and then judge her.

    Posted By Aidyn, NY, NY : December 5, 2007 7:21 pm

    nice how about telling the truth for once? people just might start listning

    December 5, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. Steve, Landing, NJ


    In what world do Giuliani and Romney have "experience" to a greater extent than Obama–or anyone else? Romney was a one-term governor in a state that would never re-elect him and Giuliani has never been involved with the Federal government on any level. Neither has a drip of foreign policy experience, and neither has connections or relationships in Congress. You can criticize Obama's experience against Biden's, Richardson's, McCain's, or even Huckabee's, but Giuliani and Romney? Come on!

    December 5, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  11. Mike, Austin Texas

    You know, my family fought for this country and helped to educate it. It pains me to see that there are still so many ignorant people out there. Have we learned nothing from all these years of seeing social security destroyed, our children growing up in schools where medal detectors are needed? Remember the time when your parents would actually make you go outside and play? Remember when you could do so without having to be in eyesight of your parents? You could actually ride your bike to the store? Those days are over. Our country has problems. Medicare, Immigration, Education, Economic, Foreign Policy. The way we have done it before is no longer acceptable and we and our children are paying for the mistakes of the past. How long are you going to ride the same old wave before you realize that the "experience" that you keep toting is the experience that got us to where we are today. It's time for a fresh outlook, a fresh way of looking at things, a fresh way of leading this country and its way of life as an example rather than pushing it on others, and its beyond time that we started thinking outside of the box about who is truly qualified to lead our country because the old way will not work in the future and with countries like China nipping at our heels we need to start thinking about that now. More than any other time we have a chance to change our course. Obama looks his opponents in the eyes when he addresses them, he is not afraid to talk about the tough issues even the ones that have affected him personally in life. It is because Obama is talking about real and defined change that people are so afraid. What you should really be scared of, is what happens if we continue this course? Hillary is the "safe" choice because she represents old politics...even the Republicans know that.

    December 5, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  12. Peter, Bethesda, MD

    Obama is what this country needs right now. With all her suppose experience she voted for this bad war in Iraq. We are tired of Bush and Clinton. 20 years is enough. This is a democracy not Monarchy for two family.

    December 5, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. HAHA,LA.


    December 5, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  14. Dalton, Winston-Salem, NC

    I don't really understand a lot of the anti-Obama messages on here... the girl asked him a question, and he answered it as best as he knew how.

    What's all the ruckus about?

    December 5, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  15. Coach Haughton NH

    Hey Senator Barack Hussein Obama with all due respect if you miss important votes that you were elected to do, then Senator then you can't comment and stop making excuses. Your are not in Clintons league..
    You need to learn the job you currently have before you can advance if ever…You lost my vote when you stooped to childish politics and the now trying to get Oprah to buy you votes..

    Posted By Jeffery Atell IOWA : December 5, 2007 7:03 am

    All candidates miss a lot of votes at election time. Senators are elected to do a lot more than vote. The votes he has missed were decided by a wide margin anyway. Better to stand up and fight for the American people than to sit in washington and vote with Bush.

    You think Senator Obama is not in Hillary Clinton's league so obviously you never considered voting for him in the first place.

    Obama 2008


    December 5, 2007 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  16. lump,

    It's clear now that Gallo-Chasanoff is seeking the spotlight. The secret service should keep an eye on this woman because she strikes me as the type of person that once the attention is taken off her she'll become more aggressive.

    December 5, 2007 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  17. Sue, Michigan

    All she had to say was "NO'. Or better yet, agree to the question, and then ask her own. Seems like she wanted the spotlight more after she "compromised her morals." I have no sympathy for her.

    December 5, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  18. david b

    barring any drastic changes Im voting for obama.. He doesnt need a plant because he can honestly answer the questions without having focus groups decide the answer by polling beforehand. Clinton is too much of a politician.. meaning she has no morals, no leadership, no actual vision for the country. ..she just feels the wind and votes whichever way is blowing her towards more power.

    We need obama.. or actually any of the non clinton candidates on the dem side. They are the only ones that will take us off this ruinous course that we've been on for the last 7 years.

    December 5, 2007 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  19. Zach

    Not only is Obama pathetic for using the student but also again proving he is a master of dirty politics. Isn't Ms. Galla-Chasonoff's 5 seconds of fame over? Please CNN, quit covering trash!!

    December 6, 2007 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  20. Ralf,Ghana

    You 'Hilary and Associates' can go ahead and speculate any propaganda against America's next President(Barack Obama).You are rather making him stronger.Go Obama,Go America

    December 6, 2007 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  21. Josh,elyria, Ohio

    for the person who said obama and bush are un american are pretty unpatriotic yourself, i think obama handled that well

    December 6, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    Not only is Obama pathetic for using the student but also again proving he is a master of dirty politics.
    Posted By Zach : December 6, 2007 12:02 am

    First of all, I disagree with you that Obama used this young woman.

    Secondly, even if that were true, remember, Hillary used her first, so what does that make her.

    December 6, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. A Voter in N.Y.

    Aidyn, NY, NY "Hillary wants the best for this country how about people start listening to what she has to say and then judge her."

    We have,she has done nothing but say what she thinks voters want to hear so she can be elected.
    How about we look at her track record?
    Oh we did, that actually took less time than to read your post. She is a do nothing, say anything to get what she wants.
    It's always the same thing from her, take credit when it is good even if it wasn't her work, lay blame on someone else if it is bad and let them take the fall.

    Ie. Hillary Care, thats her experience, till it is brought up that it failed miserably. Then Bubba takes the fall for its failure.

    Anyone who says a vote for Obama puts republicans in the white house, is as big a plant as this girl was for Hillary's question.

    In all polls to date, if HRC runs against the top 5 republicans she loses by 5 – 25%.
    If Obama runs against them he WINS by 5 – 25%.

    According to Hillary, she has been fighting the republicans for the past 15 years. Obama says he tries to compromise and work solutions out.

    what do we want America?

    Hillary fighting or Obama Uniting?

    December 7, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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