Clinton's 'Planted Questions' Flap Is Fodder for Opponents

Recent NY Times poll shows three Democrat front-runners neck and neck in Iowa.

ByABC News via GMA logo
November 14, 2007, 11:16 AM

Nov. 14, 2007 — -- The Democrats are now running neck and neck in Iowa's pivotal caucuses, with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton holding just a slight lead, according to the latest poll by The New York Times.

Clinton's campaign has hit another rough patch after questions were raised about the authenticity of a question asked of her during a Veterans Day town hall meeting in Iowa.

The Clinton campaign doesn't dispute the basics: Grinell College sophomore Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff was instructed by a campaign staffer to ask Clinton a very specific question about global warming.

Now the student is speaking out about what happened and giving even more fodder to Clinton opponents.

"They asked me if I would ask the senator a question. I said, 'Sure, you know,'" Gallo-Chasanoff told CNN. "He showed me in his binder, he had a piece of paper that had typed out questions on it. And the top one was planned specifically for a college student. It said 'college student.'"

A video on MSNBC shows Gallo-Chasanoff reading the question word for word, and then winking when she was done.

Fellow student Patrick Caldwell broke the story in the Grinell student newspaper.

"She told me she thought Sen. Clinton knew to call specifically on her," Caldwell said.

He said Gallo-Chasanoff told him one other question of the four Clinton answered at the Newton, Iowa, event was also a plant.

According to Gallo-Chasanoff, the question, asked by a man, was, "I wondered what you propose to do to create jobs for the middle-class person?"

Clinton's campaign is calling the whole thing a mistake by a junior staffer.

"Well, it was news to me and neither I nor my campaign approve of that and it will certainly not be tolerated," Clinton told reporters after the incident became public.

The flap hasn't gone over well in Iowa, where people take their conversations with the candidates very seriously. And Clinton's major opponents are taking full advantage of the situation.

"By the way, these questions have not been prescreened or preselected. I don't know what's coming up," Illinois Sen. Barack Obama said to the crowd at a recent event.