The Mystery of “The War Room” Clip

By Lindsey Ellerson

May 2, 2008 1:43pm

Mickey Kantor — Bill Clinton’s Trade Representative, a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and an informal adviser to her campaign — once seemed to have some not-so-nice things to say about the Hoosiers his chosen candidate is working so hard to pursue.

As seen in The War Room, watching election returns come in, Kantor seems to say in hushed tones to James Carville, “Look at Indiana, wait, wait – look at Indiana. 42-40. It doesn’t matter if we win. Those people are s—. Excuse me."

You can watch it HERE; the moment comes about 4:45 into the clip.

I posted the above yesterday but had the post taken down amidst some debate over its authenticity. I’m traveling and the Clinton campaign said that the clip had been doctored.

(If I’m traveling and a credible person tells me something on the blog is wrong, I will — very rarely — take down the blog post until I’m in front of a computer and can verify it. In this instance, I had watched the clip and read contemporaneous accounts that Kantor was referring to Indianans, plus I had spoken to the Clinton campaign which never denied the authenticity of the clip. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have taken it down, but I was running through an airport at the time.)

Kantor today denied to the Huffington Post that he had called Hoosiers "s—." "I was talking about the polling and not the people," Kantor said.

(He also denied the legitimacy of another clip, which certainly seems doctored, in which he uses a horrible racial slur. I’d seen that clip — not sent to me by anyone affiliated with the Obama campaign, I hasten to add — but I had not posted it.)

Ben Smith of Politico today talked to D.A. Pennebaker, director of "The War Room," agreed that the racial slur was not Kantor’s, that someone had doctored the video in that other clip.

As for the "Those people are s—" line, Pennebaker told Smith that Kantor had said, "he says they must be s—ing in the White House."

Watch the clip, what do you think he said? When "The War Room" came out other folks interpreted Kantor to be impugning Indiana residents.

In The Washington Post’s review of the film in 1993, critic Desson Howe referred to "a Mickey Kantor comment about the people of Indiana (when it looks as though Clinton’s ahead in Dan Quayle’s state)."

And a 1995 story in the Sydney Morning Herald said that "As for the good folk of Indiana, they are still recovering from the 1993 documentary War Room, which revealed the grim truth behind the Clinton election campaign. It showed Mr Kantor bursting in on election night to tell other campaign staffers that incredibly, Mr Clinton was doing well even in Republican Indiana. ‘And those people are s—!’ he declared breathlessly."

Were I not currently eating a chicken sandwich at Liberty East Restaurant in Charlotte, NC, while working on a World News piece about the economy and the candidates, I would go to Blockbuster, rent a copy of The War Room and settle this matter as much as possible.

As it is, all I can do is post this to explain why I took down the original blog entry, and re-post it with all the added context above. Not good enough, but the best I can do from Liberty East Restaurant.

- jpt

UPDATE: Let me make this clearer: I NEVER posted the doctored video with Kantor using the N-word. 

UPDATE: Please see THIS POST for the official transcript that shows Kantor was not impugning Hoosiers.

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