November 10, 2007

Clinton aides plant student's question

The post-menopausal menace is up to her same old dirty tricks. From Scarlet and Black:

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. Reporters from many major national news outlets came to the small Iowa town, from such media giants as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and CNN.

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. She also noted that staffers prompted Clinton to call on her and another who had been approached before the event, although Clinton used her discretion to select questions and called on people who had not been prepped before hand. Some of the questions asked were confusing and clearly off-message.

The practice of planting audience members to ask specific questions does not appear to be a common practice, or at least not a politically acceptable one. “Our campaign does not plant questions,” said Lauren Rose, Communications Director for Governor Bill Richardson’s campaign. When asked what she would think of other campaigns who did plant audience members, Rose said, “I think campaigns should give Iowa caucus-goers the chance to ask the questions they want.”