|Clinton Campaign Confirms Planting Town Hall Question, Says It Won't Happen Again
News | November 10, 2007
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign admitted Friday that it planted a global warming question in Newton, Iowa, Tuesday during a town hall meeting to discuss clean energy.
Clinton campaign spokesman Mo Elliethee admitted that the campaign had planted the question and said it would not happen again.
"On this occasion a member of our staff did discuss a possible question about Senator Clinton's energy plan at a forum,” Elliethee said.
“However, Senator Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event. This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again.”
In a state where the caucus is held sacred and the impromptu and candid style of the town hall meeting is held dear, Clinton’s planted question may come as a great offense to Iowans.
According to a report on the Grinnell University Web site, the Clinton campaign arranged for some of the questions for the candidate to be asked by college students:
"On Tuesday Nov. 6, the Clinton campaign stopped at a biodiesel plant in Newton as part of a weeklong series of events to introduce her new energy plan. The event was clearly intended to be as much about the press as the Iowa voters in attendance, as a large press core helped fill the small venue....
"After her speech, Clinton accepted questions. But according to Grinnell College student Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff ’10, some of the questions from the audience were planned in advance. 'They were canned,' she said. Before the event began, a Clinton staff member approached Gallo-Chasanoff to ask a specific question after Clinton’s speech. 'One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask],' she said.
"Clinton called on Gallo-Chasanoff after her speech to ask a question: what Clinton would do to stop the effects of global warming. Clinton began her response by noting that young people often pose this question to her before delving into the benefits of her plan.
"But the source of the question was no coincidence — at this event 'they wanted a question from a college student,' Gallo-Chasanoff said."
The tape of the event shows that the question and answer went as follows:
Question: "As a young person, I'm worried about the long-term effects of global warming How does your plan combat climate change?
Clinton: "Well, you should be worried. You know, I find as I travel around Iowa that it's usually young people that ask me about global warming."
The campaign's admission that it planted the question may be another blow to the New York senator's image as a trustworthy politician.
Clinton's critics have accused her of being a double-talker who refuses to answer tough questions specifically. Now her campaign has acknowledged planting at least one question.
Already her rivals have begun to criticize Friday's revelation.
“In light of a weak debate performance, not to mention a persistent inability to answer the tough questions, it appears the Clinton campaign has adopted a new strategy of planting questions,” John Edwards’ Communications Director Chris Kofinis said.
“It’s what the Clinton campaign calls the politics of planting.”