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. Jim Cleveland ohio

    Who cares Hillary and Obama. These are the best the Country can produce. Hillary is a crook and a liar. How you people can support someone that says nothing except give our money away is amazing

    December 5, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. bymyside

    He always handles himself very well in any situation.

    OBAMA '08!!!

    December 5, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  3. bymyside, Long Beach, CA

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

    Obama '08

    December 5, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. Ryan, New Jersey

    All you people who say Obama can't beat a Republican in a general election need to come up with some reasons for that, other than just stating it over and over again. I think you all are nuts! Look at the electoral math! Obama polls better among independent and undecided voters than any other candidate in the field, possibly ever! Where's the evidence to back up the claim he can't win? Or are you all just repeating it because Mistress Clinton has been trying to convince us all of that since day one, despite the fact that she's the most polarizing figure in politics since George Bush in 2000!

    December 5, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. E, Layton UT, Living in Freiburg, DE

    I hardly ever post comments – I'm one of those lurkers, but I've got to step in here.

    Like so many others have said, a "conspiracy theory" on this is down-right ridiculous. CNN ran their show by a script for timing purposes. She had some very good questions dealing with real concerns she wanted to ask. Because of time-limits, she was asked to ask her pearls/diamonds question. Mr. Obama's turn comes to campaign and she got to ask a few questions afterward that meant something to her, got a good answer, declared that she's "officialy" still undecided and just wants to move on with life.

    Don't torture the forced-media-star-college-student and let her move on. Finding every chance possible to call foul or claim anything negative towards your campaign of choice as a conspiracy theory immediately discounts your opinion in most people's minds.

    I respect this college student for not abusing this "media opportunity" and for wanting to just move on with student life. I'd want the same thing. I thought her questions for Mr. Obama were great. I'd give her an A in my class.

    December 5, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton Florida

    LOL The Hillary Supporters are out in force on the Obama articles lately! 🙂 I can't believe you all call yourselves democrats with the way you talk about the Senator from Illinois

    GO OBAMA 08!

    December 5, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Mia, Stafford, VA

    I am so sick of people saying things like "I just don't trust him," "I just don't think he has what it takes."

    How do you go to the next level to determine where those feelings come from and if they are justified? You read, and something besides the CNN Ticker which only gives a blurb on stories they think are interesting.

    If you want to know about a candidate got to their site and read their policies. Go to websites to see how they vote. Keep in mind every one running for president is missing votes and that is why they make statements, they can't always get back to the senate on time.

    Lastly, to like Hillary doesn't mean you have to hate Obama or put him down, the same for any Republican. These terrible attitudes is the exact reason we need someone like Barack who is willing to work with everyone, ask his peers from the predominantely Republican IL Senate. The Republicans had the majority but they worked with Democrats. Don't you get that is the ONLY way government will work for the people!

    December 5, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Scott in PacNW

    I'm really surprised at the level of hostility for Obama coming from Hillary supporters.

    Hey, guess what? We're on the same side as Democrats. Demonstrate some of that experience and leadership your candidate claims to have.

    December 5, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. Adam, Tysons, Virginia

    At some point it seems like the "Clinton plant" is revelling in her false victomhood. Yes, yes, she was propositioned – to ask a question.

    As for the whole planted-question incident, some Hillary for President campaign staffer asked an audience member to pose a surprisingly fair, non-leading question (it was an inquiry about Hillary's environmental agenda, not some clearly biased attack on Bush or any presidential candidate). To call the staffer's request evidence of Hillary's vicious plot to restore Faciscm (or similar evils) seems, frankly, beyond absurd.

    We can only hope that such self-righteous and inflated individuals as the Hillary student-victim don't comprise the majority of caucus-goers in Iowa.

    December 5, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. Brad, Broomfield CO

    Hillary Clinton

    The "would-a, could-a, should-a" candidate in 2008....

    "Would-a kept the United States out of Iraq had she known the truth about WMD's"

    "Could-a voted against the Patriot Act and defended the Bill of Rights and The United States Constitution but didn't."

    "Should-a seen through the administrations falsehoods, lies, and war mongering about Iran but voted in support of it."

    Hillary Clinton...would-a, could-a, should-a....but didn't in 2008!

    Vote INFORMED!

    December 5, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. Markie Bee, Sacramento, Calif.

    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.

    Wow, where to start?
    1) Read "Dreams of My Father" and you will see a young man who was conflicted about his heritage, his racial mix. I'm sure he still struggles with it at times. It goes back to the whole "is he black enough crap."

    2) Give your evidence of Obama's push polling and spreading of rumors on Hillary and you won't come off so bad. EVIDENCE, not Patti Solis-Doyle increasingly rabid responses. Do you find it curious or ironic that a day after Solis-Doyle accuses Obama's campaign of dirty tricks (one phone call from a volunteer in which a woman claims she was bullied by the Obama supporter during a 30-minute conversation) the Hillary campiagn is forced to fire an Iowa staffer for sending out the "Obama is a Muslim" e-mail. Check it out. It's all over the Internet but curiously missing from the Clinton CNews Network site right here. HMMMM....

    December 5, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. t. Pipe Owosso MI

    Hoping in San Antonio
    You don't trust Obama but you do trust Clinton? How much of that kool aid did your friend give you? Get her to release her records from her White House 'experience' and tell us everything about Vince Foster. Till then don't trust so blindly.

    December 5, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. JC, Topeka, Kansas

    So someone prove to me that this is news.

    December 5, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. Kia Smith, Atlanta, GA

    For those of you who do not see a problem with planted questions, I would like to suggest that maybe there's a problem with YOUR integrity as well. I don't care whether you are Clinton, Bush, or Obama, planting question shows a lack of integrity and I refuse to vote for someone whom I can't trust.

    Let's stop being so partisan and look for the individual who can make the best decisions for ALL Americans. Like Bill Clinton said, I'll vote for good judgment over lots of experience ANY day!!!

    December 5, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Ernest Caldwell Philadelphia, PA

    At this time 5:20pm ET there are "37" comments mostly bashing Obama in this blog. Hilary also has an article talking about her new Mortgage bill. It only received "2" comments from her supporters in the blog section. Hilary's article was actually posted a half an hour earlier than Obama's at 3:30pm. Why is this, do Clinotn supporters even know who they are rooting for? Have you read this article, and if so why not direct your energy to a positve channel of support, rather than a negative channel of hate. Or is it easier to name call than to read big words? Interesting stuff.

    December 5, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. Ryan, Los Angeles CA

    Obama's "dirty" tricks and racial pandering? The only ones who've brought up his race are his opponents, and while Hillary has bemoaned the "boys" for ganging up on her, Mr. Obama has actually taken a firm moral stand. Stop looking for excuses to discount Obama.

    December 5, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Daniel, NY, NY

    Obama is an in experienced politician who would do nothng but embarrass this country. As for Gallo-Chasanoff.....she's trying to use the press to make a name for herself. When does she sign the book deal?

    December 5, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. John Medrano, Austin, Texas

    Obama is such a fake, self-righteous, holier-than-thou type! I'm a Democrat, but he will never get my vote. I will either vote for a Republican or not vote in that particular election. I don't trust him and I don't like his antics. I can just imagine what he would do as President. He would be one of the least experienced Presidents since ... well George W. Bush!!! God help us!!

    December 5, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. demwit

    "Polls show that Hillary has strong support among women, older voters and under-educated voters while Obama's biggest support comes from younger and better-educated voters, liberals and democratic-leaning independents."

    Which are you?

    December 5, 2007 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Michael Tidwell Collinsville Illinois

    If you want to know about the canidates,look into the staffs of all of them,once I seen who was the finance chair of Barack Obama I know change was just a word for him,check her back ground,check Superior bank,doubt all those people who lost all the money they worked so hard for would want that billionare to handle any finances or that matter anything...change?'s just more of the same

    December 5, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. Ryan, New York, NY

    I'm going to have to agree with Tom, Dedham, Mass : December 5, 2007 3:55 pm on this one. I should mark my calendar, because it's a rare day when I agree with much of his politics, but on this point, he's right on the money.

    You Clinton supporters need to realize that your attacks like the ones that we're seeing in this thread are the reasons that Obama's campaign is gaining in polls while Hillary's is falling. It's funny that so many jumped on his willingness to compromise, because Hillary is by far the most compromised candidate on the Democratic side.

    Lastly, gotta love how the racists love to jump on Obama. I think I counted at least 3 comments regarding his "Muslim background/Hussein." He's not Muslim, but regardless, way to show that this country's tolerant nature. It's pretty bad when you can't attack a candidate over policy or even their personal lives, but instead on aspects that he received at birth.

    December 5, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Merv Reno, NV

    Why don't you Clintonista nobs tell Hillary to stop doing and saying ridiculous things–such as planting questions–instead of blaming Obama.

    Good God some of you are as illogical as Republicans that blame Bill Clinton for all of Bush's problems.

    Do you not understand irony?

    December 5, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  23. Archie Kearney Ne.

    Why would anyone be surprised by what the Clintons and their campaign would do to gain the power they so covet!

    December 5, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  24. a.thomas, ny,ny

    Hillary is AHEAD of obama in the latest polls:

    Iowa (Zogby poll) – 3 pts
    New Hampshire (Zogby poll ) – 11 pts
    South Carolina (ARG poll) – 24 pts

    National poll (LA Times/Bloomberg) – 24 pts

    Hillary 08!

    December 5, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  25. Lee Garrett, Overland Park, Ks.


    December 5, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5