March 26th, 2008
01:25 PM ET
11 years ago

Lewinsky questioner surprised with Chelsea's response

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The student who questioned Chelsea Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky scandal said he meant no harm."](CNN) - The college student who appeared to upset Chelsea Clinton with a question on the Monica Lewinsky scandal said Wednesday he was merely giving the former first daughter an opportunity to show how strong her mother is.

Evan Strange, a Butler University student, told CBS he is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and meant no harm with his question about the infamous White House scandal.

"Surprisingly, I am a supporter of Hillary, I love Hillary. But when I talk to my friends, one of their constant questions to me is, 'What makes her such a strong leader?', and they always bring up that scandal," Strange said in an appearance on the CBS Early Show.

"It’s not something I asked to cause trouble, it was to show those people what makes Hillary so strong, and was an opportunity for Chelsea to show all the doubters how strong Hillary is," he added.

At an event on Butler's campus Tuesday afternoon, Strange asked if the scandal had damaged Hillary Clinton's reputation. (Watch Chelsea's reaction)

Chelsea Clinton appeared taken aback by the question, saying, "Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business."

The crowd immediately cheered loudly at Chelsea's response, but Strange said Wednesday he was surprised with the answer.

"I can see where she'd get a little defensive because of the question, and just hearing Lewinsky over and over again I can see why she'd react that way, but I would liked to have heard her say something about her record, or something like that, instead of just dismissing the question," he said.

Though she has faced the glare of public life since she was a girl, Chelsea Clinton has contended with renewed press coverage after taking on a more prominent role in her mother's campaign earlier this year.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal made a brief return to the news last week, when newly-released White House schedules indicated Hillary Clinton was likely in the White House during at least 6 reported instances of encounters between her husband and the former White House intern.

Related: Evan Strange says he was shocked by Chelsea's reponse

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Chelsea Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Al T.

    If Chelsea is expected to be looked at as a serious part of this campaign, it is necessary for her to answer the difficult questions. The first question she has gotten in months that was unexpected was sidestepped. Apparently she inherited Hillary's political skills, not Bill's.

    March 26, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Steve

    Completely legit question. I doubt she had a good answer for it. Here ya go:

    Yes, the scandal damaged my mothers reputation. My father had numerous affairs, and the fact that my mother has stayed with him brings into question that she may have done so for political convenience.
    You see, while she is an accomplished lawyer, she probably would not have been considered for a political office if it would not have been for her marriage to my father.

    Someone tell me why I should vote for Hillary. I need an answer!

    March 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Chris in Columbus

    Hillary supporters may not support Obama, but it works the other way too. Obama supporters won't back Hillary, and neither will independents and 'on-the-fence' types. And there's a lot more of them than there are of you.

    March 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. John

    What??...surprised that a Clinton would dismiss a question?

    Where has this guy been?

    March 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. John

    I'm curious, how is the Monica Lewinsky scandal handled at the Clinton Presidential Library? It was part of Bill Clinton’s Presidency, and I don’t think it is ignored at the Library. I think a question about how a scandal involving Bill Clinton effects Hillary’s reputation and candidacy is legitimate. Historians will certainly be asking it, and you would not say it is "none of their business".

    This has been a poorly run campaign by Hillary, and if Chelsea was not prepped/prepared for this question, this is just another example.

    March 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I hope the Butler student is reading ask such a question is incredibly insensitive. That was a painful time for Chelsea and her family, one I'm sure in which they have moved past, but I'm sure it still invokes painful memories. Imagine how you would feel if one of your parents destroyed the soul of another. Many families do not recover from infidelity, but just because they have doens't mean it's still not painful. I think Chelsea's response is completely appropriate–it is no one's business.

    March 26, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Jeffrey

    Wow...she obviously got her knack for ducking questions from her parents. The fact is that it IS our business; politicians have public lives and if it is privacy they want, then they should remove themselves from office.

    She is in the limelight for a REASON; think about it...hard. Politics are so obviously in her future. There really isn't any other explanation of why Chelsea is making a herself a public figure.

    This election has nothing to do with policy or things that actually matter. This election is all about who APPEARS more sincere to the sheeple out there as apposed to the educated (and caring) minority. Unfortunately for the nation, none of the current candidates, Clinton, Obama and McCain, are truely sincere about remedying our woes. Instead, all three seek to increase them.

    March 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. John

    Hillary embraces the cheating liar billy boy.
    Obama regects wrights comments.
    Who is right and who is wrong.

    March 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. Robert in Toronto,ON

    By the way, I absolutely LOVE all the Clinton supporters who have said "Cmon – let the past be in the past. Stick with the issues. No need to bring up the Lewinsky scandals"
    ALL OF YOU who were the same people who were condeming Obama 2 weeks ago on comments made by his pastor. Not even him, his pastor! These affairs are directly related to your candidate's husband! And then you wanna speak on "forgiveness"????
    Talk about arrogance!

    And even more ridiculous than that, some of you have called Obama racist! do know that he's HALF WHITE/HALF BLACK right? I've never heard of a mixed racist against his own culture and himself being a minority.... Clintonians get with the program. You are blinded by your adoration for a failure of a Presidential family, and you're kidding yourself if you think that any Clinton – past, present or future – can be President of the United States again.

    March 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. robert

    Wow, another Clinton in the wrong. , I, for one, applaud Chelsea, it is no ones business, especially at this point in time. People who claim dishonesty on the part of the Clintons, a generalization, then can have no problem seeing the dishonesty in the current administration

    March 26, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. DemsV

    The Obama people say Hillary stay married only for power. People she was married for over 20 years when that hapend. It was a mistake by President Clinton but they decided to go and fix there marriage. A lot of people do that so what is the big issue? Do you guys go hating everyone that work to fix there marrige or only Hillary?

    I'm a Dem that will NEVER vote for Obama. He lacks the experience plus he can only gives good speeches if he copies them from someone else. The guy is a joke but he know how to motivate people. His voting record in illinois is a joke...

    March 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. A.M. Saqib

    If one can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen! A golden rule, and specially so in politics. Chelsea Clinton is not kid, she is 28 years of age, she should know better.

    I think they get upset on questions like this because there is perhapst guilt inside their perosonalities on this issue as they are tru;y not clean and upfront with people at large. Clintons think that most of the Americans can easily be fooled! WRONG!

    Americans are the smartest people in the world and that is why there is so obvious 'Obama Mania' out there.

    A.M. Saqib
    Houston, Texas

    March 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. Kay-Arizona

    Chelsea Clinton is living proof of great parenting skills and the Clintons should be very proud of her. I think she answered appropiately and the question was indeed "none of their business". Im sure she wasn't there to discuss her parents personal lives even if some fools seem to be obsessed with them.

    March 26, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. DEB

    What a sorry excuse for asking an inappropriate and offensive question. This kid is just after his 15 minutes of fame,...good for Chelsea for setting some boundaries.

    March 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Erikab

    If you want to respresent your mother on the campaign trail, then answer the tough questions too. I guess now she wasn't there either on the night that whole thing happened. Maybe Bill wasn't there either. Jeez 4-8 more years of this crap. Never, never, never.....

    March 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Independant

    I woul not have stayed with that husband. The answer would have been clear to me.

    March 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. laurie

    Good for her, finally someone in the political arena said what should be said to the gossips in the world who would rather talk about personal lives than the real political issues effecting our country. i think when it comes to these kind of matters "None of your business" should be the response. Maybe if people were more concerned about the war, failing economy, lack of medical care and decaying urban infrastructures than personal family matters we'd be better off. I only hope one day this guy is asked infront of a crowd how his mother felt when they found out his father cheated. Nice.

    March 26, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Gerard, Tampa

    She's a grown woman. If she chooses to campaign then she should be treated like everyone else.

    I like her too, but if you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    March 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. kathleen

    I did not want to pick on Chelsea out of respect for the girl, not
    the parents. But you CNN, are tempting me. PLEASE GET HER

    March 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. Not Suprised At All

    Sad that once Hillary starts using her daughter to campaign for her that she won't answer questions about her mother's experience in the White House which is supposedly one of her selling points.

    March 26, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Truth, Honesty, Ethnics, Faith, & Values!!!!

    Hillary is what she is Dishonest, yet loyal to no one but herself, placing herself about the will of America. The Clinton are starting to show there ugly head she knows Rev Wright is not a bad minister she attempting to say she actually agree with the sermon but she do.

    Hillary, is a straight up Liar and fail the Commander and Cheif Test. Commands and Chief test do not lie about War of Sniper Fire. Thats a no no!!!

    March 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. kathleen

    How much did Bill cost the government with this scandal?
    It was millions of taxpayer dollars.


    March 26, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. someferge

    Chelsea Clinton's response to the Lewinsky question revealed further weaknesses in her overall ability to withstand public scrutiny about her family’s political ambitions. Elected or prospective government officials cannot ignore questions about matters of public record. Nor can their families or supporters. It is eminently reasonable for the electorate to ask about the damaging effects of affairs that lead to a presidential impeachment, and specifically, on the negative impact this had on Hillary Clinton’s career.

    March 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. Ian, Canton, OH

    That was a legitimate question, but unfortunately Chelsea didn't hear it, because she heard "Lewinsky" and had an immediate emotional reaction. It wasn't really a personal question. The person who asked the question has every right to be taken aback by the strange response from Chelsea.

    I was ashamed of this country's response to the scandal in the first place, which is why this would have been a good opportunity for Chelsea to demonstrate her mother's strength at dealing with national scandals, and how she weathers them and comes back even stronger.

    March 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Helen

    What a Stupid question.

    March 26, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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