Hillary Clinton Campaign Planted Questions

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has repeatedly planted questions at campaign stops.

One day after Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign confirmed that a staffer planted a question for the presidential candidate at a recent campaign stop, another person has come forward with a similar story.

Geoff Mitchell, a minister who recently moved to Hamilton, Ill., from Iowa, told ABC News that he was approached this spring by Clinton’s Iowa political director Chris Haylor to ask Clinton a question about war funding. Mitchell, 32, said that the request “did not sit well with me in the tradition of the Iowa caucus.” “I grew up in Iowa and I value the tradition of the caucuses of answering the questions of the people,” Mitchell said.

The revelation today about a campaign-prompted question comes just one day after the Clinton campaign admitted to planting a question this week in Iowa. That instance involved an unidentified Clinton campaign staffer who approached a female student from Grinnell College and asked her to pose a question about global warming at a campaign stop at a biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa, on Nov. 6.

The campaign acknowledges the practice and, given that it’s happened at least twice, it’s not unreasonable to presume they’ve done this as a matter of course. It is indeed a violation of the spirit of free exchange and, frankly, rather bizarre given that Clinton could easily get her message out in her prepared remarks without stooping to this.

Perhaps there’s a time-honored tradition of doing this sort of thing that I’ve just missed. What immediately comes to mind, though, is this classic exchange from a Saturday Night Live debate spoof during the 2000 campaign.

Jorge BushJim Lehrer: Next, a question for Governor Bush, from Mr. Jorge H.W.B.

George Bush: [ disguised in Mexican garb with his Secret Service Agents ] Well.. as an undecided Latino voter – mi English unbiquito here – but I’d like to ask Governor Bush here, didn’t that last question seem a little biased? A little skewed? Not totally on the level? That last fellow – possible shill.. possible Democratic operative over there..

Of course, that was just a comedy skit.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    A repugnantly bogus practice, particularly after FEMA’s little adventure in theater during the California wildfires.

    I *am* curious whether the practice is common to other campaigns; it may well be, given the willful stupidity of the press corps, which prefers haircuts and cleavage to policy issues, much to the despair of voters.

    Still, lies are lies. If HRC thinks that pressers are a waste of time, let her quit having so many and going to Perot-style presentations instead (w/ online video & transcripts).

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    I would expect others do the same or things very similar. That’s the nature of modern campaigning, leave nothing to chance and manage each stop as a dog and pony show. I have no love for Hillary but this is not a real issue but more of a personal embarrassment.

    We seem to pounce on every misstep a candidate makes like it’s the scandal of the year. Let’s not make campaigns worse than they already are. Let’s pay less attention for now.

  3. Boyd says:

    I think it’s naïve to believe this isn’t common practice. Maybe that merely reflects my contempt for politicians in general, but it’s unfathomable to me that someone running for the Presidency, at least, wouldn’t do this on a regular basis.

  4. Eneils Bailey says:

    I have no problem with politicians staging and orchestrating campaign events that they pay for and script. It’s what they do, if you are apt to believe them, you deserve what you get.

    One good thing about Mrs. Bill Clinton as compared to her husband,(?) the local authorities don’t have to send in a CSI unit with rape kits to clear up what happened at a political rally.

  5. Wayne says:

    Is it my imagination or did the MSM go after FEMA much more aggressively for doing this than they have against Clinton.

    I suppose it is not a sin when your side does it only when the other side does.

  6. Anderson says:

    Well, Wayne, I think maybe people still can tell the difference between a campaign (not our government) and an agency (our government), and hold the latter to a higher standard.

    Agreed however that the same ethical principles apply; it’s the egregiousness that differs.

  7. Eneils Bailey says:

    “Is it my imagination or did the MSM go after FEMA much more aggressively for doing this than they have against Clinton.”

    Oh please, you know the answer to that question.
    The females members of the MSM and so do the male members of the MSM dampen their panties when they get a chance to go after the Bush administration.
    Up to this point, they have defined HRM’s campaign as faultless and and refuse to believe she can fault herself. Any criticism from the MSM to HRM is meant to direct her to the here-to-fore undefined virtures of any democrap candidate as the msm and the far left sees it…..

  8. Randy Crawford says:

    Hillary’s planted questions have been going on for months, and the only amazing part of the story is that the media has taken so long to pick up on what has been happening with her campaign. If “everybody else” were doing it, “everybody else” would be getting caught. Nice try, aspiring Hillary spin-meisters.
    When Hillary spoke at the Quality Inn/Highlander in Iowa City on April 3, 2007, she arrived late and kept the crowd waiting for about 40 minutes as she huddled in a back room with Johnson County (Iowa) and Des Moines party functionaries. Once she was introduced by Johnson Co. Supervisor Sally Stutsman and former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, she gave her prepared speech and then took about a half-hour’s worth of questions from the audience, which surrounded her on four sides with Hillary at the middle of the indoor open square space.
    To put on the appearance of herself as the family values/loves kids candidate, about midway through her Q & A session Hillary took a rather long and highly scripted question which a schoolgirl spent about a minute reading from a piece of paper she (the girl herself) held, as the girl faced in the direction of the media risers and their cameras. The girl had been positioned in the front row, at the center of her quadrant of the audience. After Hillary gave her “isn’t that cute” response, evidently imitated from the style pioneered by Art Linkletter half a century ago, she resumed taking questions from adults.
    Finally, after another 10-15 minutes of Hillary ignoring children, Christie Vilsack rose and interjected, “it’s almost time to go, time for one more question.” On that signal, Hillary went straight to a schoolboy located in the front row, middle of the audience, 180 degrees opposite from the schoolgirl. Once Hillary gave another “isn’t that cute” response to the boy with his back to the cameras, the Q & A was indeed over, and the crowd started dispersing.
    The whole thing was as patently contrived at the schoolkids who provided “happy Chinese children” background for Nixon on his historic trip to China, viz. kids who had their jump ropes and hair ribbons confiscated as soon as Nixon left his outdoor appearance site. So, I went to look over the kids in the Quality/Highlander audience a little more closely. The girl and her mother were rewarded by having their picture taken with Hillary. The boy was wearing a Hillary staff badge. Just prior to this event, Hillary had promised ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack, who was there with Christie, that she would help him retire his campaign debt from his recently failed presidential bid. –END–