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The Clinton Campaign Plants A Question

Yesterday I did a post about the analogy between Hillary Clinton in 2008 and Richard Nixon in 1968, the upshot of which was that, in order to win, a respected-but-not-loved candidate like Nixon or Hillary has to be relentlessly stage-managed. I cited the televised forums Nixon did with voters as an example of the kind of thing that was pretty effective in '68. The forums looked spontaneous but were actually highly choreographed.

I didn't realize it at the time, but it turns that this particular aspect of the '68 campaign has a rough analogue in the Clinton campaign: According to a report by a college newspaper in Iowa, which the Clinton campaign has (partly) corroborated to the AP, a Clinton aide fed a student a question for Hillary at a campaign event this week. The campaign says it was an isolated case and that Clinton herself wasn't aware of it. It'll be interesting to see if there's any fallout in Iowa.

I guess it's not so shocking that this kind of thing goes on--I doubt Hillary's the first presidential candidate this cycle to receive a planted question. But, obviously, if you're going to go that route, the key is not to leave fingerprints. The clumsiness of the effort leads me to think it wasn't actually very sinister or systematic. After all, it would be a lot easier to line up a supporter to ask a question rather than try to plant one on an unsuspecting college student, which is what apparently happened here.

--Noam Scheiber