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. GH, New York, ny

    Honestly, I am totally not impressed with Obama's experience, abilties, issues and electability. Most democrat voters agree with me.

    Why the media appear to support him? Are the media trying to get obama nominated? For a fact, obama will never get elected, not at this time and not with his experience and abilities.

    NObama 08.

    December 5, 2007 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Will, NYC

    "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.

    December 5, 2007 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. BlueGoose

    And yet we and CNN have a word for word transcript of their conversation during this "one on one" moment. Yea right!

    December 5, 2007 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Gary, des moines, Iowa

    I heard that, during the upcoming South Carolina rally with Obama, Oprah will endorse a book called, "The candidate of almosts, an autobiography of a muslim candidate".

    December 5, 2007 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    It's a much more appropriate and thoughtful question than 'Diamonds or Pearls?' And if the Book is a must read, then go read it, because your comments on these boards are pretty ignorant, J.

    December 5, 2007 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. LB, FL

    A Bound Man is over rated!!! Just another attempt to give us a million reasons why we shouldn't embrace change. I think the book is rather racist, sterotypical, and ignorant if you ask me!

    December 5, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Heather, Chicago IL

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

    LOL. He is correct. That is why Politics generally attracts snakes and liars to the profession, and only the best of the best reach the prominence he has obtained 😉

    December 5, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Nik

    I know that girl well. If an average girl, naive in every way, is given so much hype...I think Media should have her running in campaign as president. God Bless...we are closer to what we call third world countries. Grow up everyone. Asking her who she favors...shame on media.

    December 5, 2007 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. A Kulp, Griffin, Georgia

    Obama seems to have taken Rove's advice on how to be glib, cuttingly cute, smug and indifferent. I am disappointed. He's lost me. I can't see him dealing with our Foreign or Domestic policies using these tactics, and I now believe he would.
    You know what I mean, "I think I'm so cute I can get away with anything", well we don't need anymore of that. Let's all remember the "nice guy" sales job that was successfully pushed by the Bush backers the last 2 elections. We want a leader not a pundant.

    December 5, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. Biggdawg

    We don't know who she's supporting. Right. She's supporting Obama. Always has. She was an Obama plant at Hillary's Q&A just as she was at Obama staged exchange with her as described in this article.

    Not fooled.

    December 5, 2007 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. KEITH JAMES LOUTTIT

    The obvious question should have been: DID YOU REACH THIS LEVEL WITHOUT COMPROMISING YOUR MORALS OR INTEGRITY?

    Maybe I'm off on this, but the question she did ask, sounded like her mom told her to ask it.

    December 5, 2007 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Oscar, Rio Vista, CA

    I wish reporters would go out and do their job. How much did the reporter get paid for this piece of enlightenment. Can we have some serious discussions here instead of giving a nobody another 5 mins of fame.

    I love Barack Obama and would like to hear more of what was said at the meeting instead of concentrating the report on "nothing".

    December 5, 2007 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. Kevin

    why would that be an inappropriate question?

    December 5, 2007 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. John Adkisson, Sacramento, california

    This story is a testament to the value of retail politics in Iowa. Two presidential candidates running into the same student in one month would never happen anywhere else.

    In such an intimate political atmosphere, astute voters will
    catch a phony every time. Despite soaring poll numbers, Senator Clinton is losing to the more authentic Senator Obama.

    December 5, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Independent in IA

    I'd say it was a perfectly valid question. Obama's response was also quite valid....compromises MUST be made to get the job done, but that doesn't include one's core values...those need to be adhered to.

    December 5, 2007 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. Caren

    Ok She just happened to be in the front row. He just happened to bring up the subject. She just happened to be pointed out. She just happened to ask such an gift wrapped question, and the list goes on. Pardon me while throw up

    December 5, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Newton, Chicago, IL

    Is it possible to even become a freshman student at Grinnell College without compromising one's morals? I guess the answer for Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff is "No".

    December 5, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. CLINTON 2008

    Posted By Jimenez – Texas

    Thats the post you approve????

    CNN is showing favortisim to obama...time to switch channels just like when Oprahs on!

    December 5, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Bill, NY

    Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff is not only enjoying her 15 minutes of fame, she probably orchestrated them. Someting fishy going on here... Shame on her.

    December 5, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Daniel

    I bet this girl is so proud of herself. This is not news, lets start talking about the issues not plants.

    Hillary has my vote.

    December 5, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Ken, San Diego, CA

    I don't want to accuse anyone of anything, BUT this sure is convenient for Obama to be able to get this once dead story now back in the news.

    December 5, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Bill, NY–

    What in the name of God are you talking about? A student goes to a political event, becomes a news story. She goes to another political event, is recognized. What is fishy about this? Wouldn't someone likely to go see Clinton answer questions on campus be likely to see Obama answer questions as well? Especially if she ended up slightly disillusioned by Clinton? What on earth would she be orchestrating?

    December 5, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. DJ, LA, CA

    Yes I think most if not ALL town hall debates, meetings and political gatherings involve staged questions and plants.

    Obviously George Bush only will field questions from reporters he feels comfortable with during press conferences etc.

    So "plants" and staged questions are nothing new, however annoying they may be.

    December 5, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. Howard, Huntington, NY

    I think Bill is trying to say that Muriel planted herself. She knowingly convinced herself to go to the Obama event and even rehearsed a question for her to ask!

    December 5, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. Paul Pearson

    Its sad to say...but we as Americans have become so partisan that we think its "ok" to plant questions for public consumption as long as it serves the "cause"...not just getting elected but beating the other guys is paramount to making a change. Clinton the first was a real spin machine and now that Bush the second is beating them at the game it seems the only recourse for the Clinton "party" is return the favor in kind. Its so sad its almost laughable...but talking to friends "we" do care and we are starting to care more and more every-sec. Time-out for making us seem like idiots and after your caught then saying its for our own good. We need real change in this country not just the same wolf dressed in granda's pajamas. I CARE!!!!

    December 5, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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