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. John, Detroit, Michigan

    That girl is totally working with the Obama campaign.

    What honest people.

    December 5, 2007 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  2. anonanon

    Mr. Obama – when you bus in hundreds of people from Illinois to the Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner or the Iowa Brown & Black forum – why aren't any of them called plants?

    December 5, 2007 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  3. Julius, Sokcho City

    What an audacious mind! Obama, you're trully and simply an amazing leader! America is solidly behind you!!!

    December 5, 2007 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  4. Jimenez - Texas

    Give us a break Obama. As for Ms. Gallo-Chasanoff who are you again? Obama isnt one anyone including her should ask about morals. By the read some good reading material – may I suggest it to Oprah for her next book of the month? Let's try reading "The Bound Man." I heard it was exceptional.

    December 5, 2007 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  5. Jerome Lattelle FL

    This guy is making a mockery of our great country! Obama is as anti american as george bush!

    December 5, 2007 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  6. Jeffery Atell IOWA

    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..

    December 5, 2007 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  7. Hoping in San Antonio

    I am in my 50's and this will be the first time I vote. I will be voting for Clinton. My friend is probably one of her biggest supporters she convinced me how important this race is. I wouldn't vote for Obama I just don't trust the guy. Say what you will about Clinton – but Obama is someone people need to really pay close attention to.

    December 5, 2007 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  8. Deeean

    Apparently the Obama 'camp' planned this!! Silly games. GO HILIARY

    December 5, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  9. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    It's not hard for Obama. He has no morals.

    December 5, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  10. Lynn farmington hills mich

    A little ot-but I wanted to say that I'd heard rumors Cnn was a classy news network and today I FOUND OUT THEY WERE TRUE. I'd also heard that KIRAN CHETRY WAS A BEAUTIFUL HARDWORKING NEWS ANCHOR, and I had my doubts about that when I heard a snippet of a coming report about rumors of Obama being Muslim, WHICH HE ISN'T last nite that she read to preview her am show and I jumped to the wrong conclusions. Well today I found out that those rumors about her being honest and hardworking, beautiful ARE TRUE ALSO. thank you Cnn for treating Obama with the respect due him AS A SITTING U.S. SENATOR AND DOING WHAT YOU DO BEST PRESENTING THE FACTS, instead of baseless rumormonging a la Wash Post and Perry Bacon Jr. My faith in Cnn's fairness has been restored today.

    December 5, 2007 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  11. Ike Woodbridge , VA.

    A vote for Obama is a wasted vote. If Obama becomes the democratic nominee, the republicans will definitely win the White House again.

    December 5, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  12. Ali, detroit, ny

    Of couse, Obama has compromised his morals to come this far. Reasons:

    1) He is half white, but he purposedly ignores his whiteness and empahsized his blackness to get into harvard, and into politics.

    2) He lost out to Hillary on various political issues, on experience, and on electability. Therefore, he plays dirty tricks, including push polling and spreading rumours against Hillary.

    Obama is a hyprocrit and flip-floppers. He is a loser.

    December 5, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  13. Hussein Osama, syracuse, ny

    I do not see anything wrong with Hillary asking someone to ask her a question in public, so that she can discuss it. She could have talking about that topic without being asked.

    Hillary knows her subjects and issues. She is also a great speaker. She shone in the last CNN debate in Vegas, and also shone again in her handling the new hampshire hostage crisis. Hillary beats Obama hands down, anytime.

    Don't be fooled by Obama's fluff.

    NObama 08.

    December 5, 2007 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  14. aaron Smithsburg, Maryland

    Plants in politics, media, consumerism. This is a less than honest practice. The equivalent of a saboteur or spy. Being a naive college makes it worse, easily convinced and what have you. Takes you back to Berlin in the thirties, Hitler had plants in all of his rivals political camps. Right before he killed them all and burned down the Reichstag and blamed it on terrorists. You gotta love it when they emulate their heroes.

    December 5, 2007 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  15. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Obama had garnered some more respect from me.

    This situation should be highlighted over and over again as it proves what non-Clintonista's say about her doing everything and anything to get elected.

    You sheep can now bash this BRIGHT and wholly innocent young woman, and at the same time support a supposed BRIGHT but totally phony woman.

    "Your picking on Hillary because she is a woman and men can't handle a strong woman".

    No, she is being EXPOSED for the fraud that she is and she just happens to be a woman.

    December 5, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  16. TC at LV

    With a smile, this statesman puts all the muck from the Clinton camp in it's proper place.

    Thank you Senator Obama for being our candidate for president.

    December 5, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. Gary, des moines, Iowa

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

    Obviously, she is not impressed by Obama. I don't blame you. Obama is not that impressive after all, after you hear him talk for a while. He does not connect to his audience like Hillary, and his issues are full of holes.

    Like Giuliani, to know Obama is to hate him.

    December 5, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  18. jw, canadian,ok

    Slow day for news?

    December 5, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. Mark, Dallas, TX

    Who said the "plant" was compromising her morals? That's a far stretch without the "plant" saying she compromised. If she didn't want to do it, she didn't have to...she did it for a reason...who knows why she did it but for Obama to make assumptions about this shows his lack of logic and reasoning...not what I want in a President. And this fake I'm your personal President approach will go away as soon as he believes he has any power. Look at who he is helping to endorse him – Oprah...c'mon – she's the one throwing million dollar birthday parties for herself...and together they are going to talk about reforming America – how about reforming yourself?

    December 5, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  20. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Was this level of honestly offensive to HRC supporters?? I would think it would be as he is the polar opposite of her...he's real....honest....trustworthy...yep...everything Hillary is not

    December 5, 2007 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  21. roger, conway sc

    Who really cares...Obama with his lack of experience & being so phony he should do some "planting" himself. If people really believe that he is all just wait & see if he becomes the democratic nominee we will not take back the white house...alot of dems will not vote for him and NO republican will it has nothing to do with race it is that he is not presidential...just like his friend Oprah she may draw a large crowd BUT she will never be president..

    December 5, 2007 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  22. randy,new york city

    This is called been honest.barack the vote.obama 08!

    December 5, 2007 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  23. demwit

    "is it were possible to reach such a high level in national politics without compromising one's morals?"

    Spoken like a true Hillary supporter..

    December 5, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  24. al, San Francisco, CA

    Do not think for a moment that Obama will win the election! He will not.

    He is playing dirty tricks to get nomination with the support of the republicans, but he is be trashed badly during the next election, and lose.

    Obama is an empty suit.

    December 5, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  25. Jimenez - Texas

    I don't think this is an appropriate question for Obama to be asked – but then again look who is asking. Oprah needs to tell her viewers about a new book that is out. "The Bound Man." I heard it's a must read.

    December 5, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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