Ben Smith of the Politico is reporting then Fox News is reporting on a incident from earlier this year were Clinton used a plant. The story was bad enough as it was. But with the Clinton campaign claiming that this was the only time it had happened they could be in some big trouble.
Already the story of the plant has spread far and wide to nearly 100 media locations, including the front page of the Des Monies Register. Some commenter's on DailyKos have claimed that Clinton used plants at YearlyKos and a commenter at MyDD claimed that Clinton aide Chris Hayler asked to have the commenter ask about Iraq at State Sen. Gene Fraise's home. That's the most specific details we have yet of any other story. The sorces on these are shaky, two commenter's and Fox News but the last story was confirmed pretty quickly. This is bigger then one event, this is about a campaign constantly using a unethical campaign tactic. This will backfire. More below the fold.
Here is the part of the story with the Clinton campaign's spokesperson.
Hillary Clinton’s Iowa campaign confirmed to Fox that one of its staff discussed questions with Geoffrey Mitchell before the senator’s April 2 event near Fort Madison, but denied atempting to plant a pro-Clinton question.
Mo Elliethee, spokesman for CLinton, told Fox that Clinton staffer Chris Hayler talked with Mitchell before the event bcause the two knew eaach other from previous Democratic activities.
Mitchell told Fox he knew Hayler because Hayler had once been with Indian Sen. Evan Bayhn’s campaign. "They had a previous relationship and were talking before the event and the topic of the senator’s position on Iraq came up, and Geoffrey said he had some questions," Elliethee said. "Chris suggested Geoffrey ask a question."
Asked if the Clinton campaign denied Mitchell’s unequivocal assertion that Hayler tried to plant a quesiton about Clinton trying to stand up to Bush on Iraq war funding, Elliethee declined.
"I’m not going to comment on what he said," said Elleithee, referring to Mitchell. "They had a previous relationship, the subject came up and there’s nothing more to it than that. It’s not newsworthy. It’s inocent. It’s not yesterday."
That was a reference to Clinton’s campaign admitting, first to Fox, that it planted a question on global warming at a Newton, IA event on Tuesday.
This doesn't sound quite as bad but it depends on who you believe. Hopefully another event attendee will come forward and clarify. This is not good though.
I'll have more on this as it develops. But this is not good coming at a key time for the campaign.
UPDATET2: The guy still stands by his story:
When contacted by Fox News and read Clinton's interpretation of events, Mitchell said: "I stand by my story. Completely."
UPDATE3: Ben Smith points out on his blog that he reported this April 3rd. The relevant part is below:
On a two-day swing through eastern Iowa this week, Clinton has put the idea of a confrontation with Bush on Iraq – and the implicit distinction between her and Obama – at the heart of her stump speech.
One local Democratic Party official told The Politico that a Clinton aide had also suggested that he and other audience members ask questions about the confrontation.
Clinton’s focus on the issue reflects her campaign's preoccupation – expressed openly by her husband in conversations with donors – with presenting a muddier and more nuanced view of the politics of Iraq than the narrative embraced by some political observers, which casts Obama as an opponent of the war and Clinton as a supporter.
UPDATE4: Ben Smith has another update on his blog. I'll put it all here:
UPDATE: I just talked to Mitchell again -- whose story today, by the way, is identical to what he told me a few minutes after the incident -- and he talked a little about how he felt at the time about the request.
"I thought it was inappropriate," he said. "The tradition of the Iowa caucuses is the ability to ask the questions of the people that are on the ground, that are living in Iowa, as opposed to talking about what they already want to talk about. It just lacks authenticity."
It makes this seem so much worse: