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. Dom Einhorn

    A compromise is a compromise, regardless of how you slice it. You are either your self, or you are not. And there is a thin line when it comes to one's core values that many politicians find easy to cross.

    http://www.karmavision.tv

    December 5, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Seth Vick, Boise, Idaho

    Uh, I don't know about you Kelly, but "I" care a great deal about whether a candidate is planting questions. It shows an absolute lack of integrity on the part of the candidate, a willingness to cheat to get his or her way.

    I think saying that she's not as bad as Bush doesn't raise the correct moral standard. ANYONE who plants questions is automatically untrustworthy in my book, past, present, or future.

    December 5, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. whoknows

    Is CNN Scares now ? What happen to you, CNN ? Now you are changing tune to raise Obama so you think in this way to be fair ? Stand up, CNN, what you believe and what you represent. Don't learn from MSNBC, have some soul.

    December 5, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Dom Einhorn–

    I want pizza with mushrooms and olives. My fiance wants plain. We compromise on mushroom. Did we sell out our core values, or did we just find a way to move forward and do the right thing for the American people? If a compromise is a compromise is a compromise, I'd guess the former, but my stomach says otherwise.

    December 5, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Paul NY

    I wonder how many Americans compromise everyday. Maybe we decide its better to pay for school for our kids rather tackle the public school system...maybe we work long hours every week rather than make it home in time for dinner so that we can pay for that school that we like for our children. On a larger scale...I'm sure these canidates on boths side make compromises...and shake hands with strange bed fellows. But what I don't want anymore of is the shady compromise...from the Hillary camp that pays dividends to the very elite group that its spouts venom at...which is just as bad as no compromise which Bush as taken to a level that we could have only imagined until term 2. What we need is a president that will compromise when it works for the American people. Not one that does so to get elected.

    December 5, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Ike Woodbridge , VA.

    A vote for Obama is a vote for whomever the republican nominee may be. Obama cannot beat any republican in the field right now in the general election. If Obama wins the democratic nomination, it will definitely be a sure win for the republicans.

    December 5, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Tristen

    How convenient that Gallo-Chasanoff was pointed out to Obama by her "friends" and that she just happened to be standing near the front of the audience.
    And as for the profound question?? I wonder who gave her that one.
    This whole performance sounds like a set up to me.

    December 5, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    I just can't understand how Hillary supporters can hate Obama so much. Is it just because he is creating such a challenge for her? I mean, come on, this guys exemplifies everything that I would ever hope for out of the Democratic Party.

    Also, before I see one more message from Hillary supporters about Obama's purported lack of experience, remember that this is exactly what Nixon said about Kennedy. Also remember that Bill Clinton said judgement is even more important that experience in one of his debates with Bush I.

    I initially supported Edwards and I still do, but Obama is just great too. Obama is like JFK and Edwards is like RFK. Why not have them both?

    Obama/Edwards or Edwards/Obama '08

    December 5, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. Chelsea Garen, Vista, California

    Obama, you need to have more life, political and economic experiences for your pursuing goals honestly!

    Regaarding to "plant" for the preparations, I don't think that it is a big deal for the whole compagins.
    You need to know that you are doing the "plant" preparations every day and evey minute in the compagin: where to go, how to speak audiences, even how to address up in front of voters, you were in well-prepared for your compagin. Please don't look at others, and forget what you were doing !

    December 5, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Andrew, Cleveland, OH

    Doesn't Obama loves the college crowds! In that way he avoid to show up at other forums and avoid thee hard questions, just like his ever"present" voting record. He is very smooth, calculated politician with big friends trying to become a president without any merit at all.
    Can't wait till this celebrity tour is over and he will go back to Illinois to march with Jessie Jackson.

    December 5, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. theresa lv

    Exactly Seth Vick. Saying GW does it all the time makes it ok for HRC – children say that all the time " well she does it why can't I". Oh the mentality of the Clinton followers.

    The other sickening outcome of the Hillary plant is that Clinton's followers actually blame the young girl.

    I hope these people don't have children that they are responsible for.

    December 5, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. Hoping in SA

    Nobody hates Obama. Well let me rephrase – I don't hate Obama. I just don't he is the one I choose to back.

    December 5, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Tom Dedham, Mass

    There you Clintonista's go in attacking this totally INNOCENT woman who is smart and strong.

    Your the same frauds that speak of Hillarity being strong and smart, but unlike this young woman, Hillary is as deceitful as any politician ever.

    Go after her Obama, you have the floor now to speak the truth, as her poll numbers are going down because people ARE NOW PAYING ATTENTION.

    Isn't this "fun" Hillary.

    December 5, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Charles–

    I like Hillary okay and all, and I'll be happy if she wins the election, but your response to this matter makes my brain hurt with despair for humanity. Please stop.

    December 5, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. Jay

    I still don't understand why this was ever a news story. The quesiton she asked was still a legitimate question. Plus the question this college student wanted to ask had already been asked and answered that's why the campaign staff asked her to ask this environmental question. So ridiculous.

    Everyone, including Obama, needs to get over it.

    December 5, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. J Houston, TX

    her supportes (like me) don't care.

    Don't care about anything she does. Half of her votes will simply be because she is a woman. She could be suggesting we should all surrender to Canada and become a protectorate, she'd still get 25% of the country's votes thanks to her supporters. The fact is, the rest of the country that went to college and doesn't have an inferiority complex won't. Obama stands 10x the chance to get a vote in the national election. And that's your perspective from an independent.

    Many people in Texas vote Republican. Many of my friends are often too lazy to vote because they figure the vote will already go that way anyways, especially the Republicans who feel they will get the Republican anyways and are happy with it. Every one of them will show up at the polls if Hillary runs..and everyone will vote Democrat. If that type of behavior is nationwide, Hillary running for President might just put some energy back in the Republican party and do everything you don't want it to do.

    December 5, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. jake Queens NY

    Oh for God's sake, who the hell cares if the questions are planted or not !
    They're only questions, planted or not, it's good that they're being asked.
    Obama is an inexperienced, showboating,airhead dandy who needs that affected blowhard Oprah to blaze a path for him. They should both take the path to obscurity.

    December 5, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. illegal Larry

    What a great story! Pulitzer material for sure! Keep up the shody work CNN.

    December 5, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. lowell mass

    A vote for Obama is a vote for whomever the republican nominee may be. Obama cannot beat any republican in the field right now in the general election. If Obama wins the democratic nomination, it will definitely be a sure win for the republicans.

    Posted By Ike Woodbridge , VA. : December 5, 2007 3:13 pm

    if obama can beat the clintoneans powerfull machine then whats there to be scared of ?
    please say something that makes sense,if clinton lost to obama then the chances of her lossing to any republkkkan are just as high.by the way i dont think clinton can convince any republican to vote for her.so the election would more likely be decided on party lines if that was to happen.its like your kid sayin i didnt make my grades in high school exam but i would have done better if it was a college exam.forget the independents they too would be squarely diveded.plus a number of democrats who just wont vote because they dont like the clintons back in the white house.

    December 5, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Jack

    I'm sorry, but this whole "obama can't be trusted" line coming from Clintonites? Laughable.
    As to the claim that she beats him? Please. He's got more experience, her lies aside, and if you comapre their platforms side by side, you will find he fleshes his out with all kinds of details she misses.
    I realize the Clinton camp is desperate, but I guess it shouldn't surprise me that they are now resorting to empty accusations and rhetoric. It's her way, after all.

    December 5, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. Linda

    This is a story... OOH PLEASE.

    How embarrassing.

    December 5, 2007 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Bob MD

    For all of you Clinton lovers her are the facts. They are the biggest crooks to ever step foot in the White House

    http://prorev.com/legacy.htm

    December 5, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Mitch, Colo Springs, CO

    I think by CNN giving headlines to such a story adds unnnecessary conflicts between two camps. Such stories have no standing in the campaign. These are typical of Rove tactics. If Obama or Hillary want to win the nomination, it should be purely on their policies and not such stunts.

    December 5, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. Jack Shrewsbury, MA

    I saw this story on the ticker earlier today, however it was not at the top of the Ticker. WHY HAS THIS STORY BEEN MOVED TO THE TOP OF THE TICKER? In particular, why has this story been moved above the MORE RECENT story about Sen. Clinton's plan to address the housing crisis?

    "Clinton News Network" MY FOOT. The placement of these stories is an unfair way to literally bury good news about Sen. Clinton and paint Barack Obama in a positive light, while not questioning his record one bit.

    December 5, 2007 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. NY, NY

    Don't tell me he never plant Qs. Most politicians do plant Qs. I'm sure this is another. She got another 15 mins. of fame. Who cares. I'd rather listen to candidates talk real issues like economy, healthcare, social security, education, etc. I'd like to hear their "How to" not mere rhetoric. What did he do as a state senator in illinois? I never heard any of his accomplishments as state senator. Maybe there is none.

    December 5, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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