...Sounds like a planted question, indeed. But it probably wasn't a Clinton plant -- the question was probably crafted by one of the innumerable outside interest groups who are funding issue advocacy campaigns in the early primary and caucus states...
UPDATE 2: On Thursday afternoon I spoke by phone with both of the young women in the YouTube clips.
Roya Soleimani, who asked about Iran, called me after speaking with Clinton's New Hampshire staff today. She said her question was authentic and she attended several campaign events in New Hampshire as a volunteer for a project associated with ABC News. "It was a completely self-generated question because I wanted to know what her position on foreign policy with Iran," she said, adding "I can unequivocally say that I had not discussed the question, or any of my policy areas of interest with the campaign in advance." Soleimani, a 22-year-old events manager in Washington, D.C., says she currently supports Clinton.
Jo Jensen says she did not speak with any Clinton staff today, but there is a reason her question looked practiced. As Executive Director for Students for Saving Social Security, Jensen has personally asked six candidates about Social Security. The 22-year-old posts the results at the organization's YouTube account, SecureOurFuture, which currently features the question from the Salem event. Jensen, who is undecided, says her question "absolutely was not planted." She added that she was excited about the Salem Town Hall. "The Clinton event was the first one they let me in to. Usually they're invite-only and they don't have students that are allowed to go," she said.
In this case, the questions raised on YouTube were largely answered on YouTube. But Clinton's rivals think they can squeeze more out of the story. At 2:30pm today, the Edwards Campaign sent out a press release announcing a new web campaign, PlantsforHillary.com, inviting web activists to "plant" their own questions for Clinton, and a new YouTube attack ad about the "Politics of Planting." Today the Obama Campaign piled on that point, saying Clinton's immigration record makes it "easier to understand why the Clinton campaign would rather plant their questions than answer them." As I previously noted in this space, Clinton does deserve credit for personally denouncing the fake questions. Tonight, all eyes will be on her to see how she answers the real ones.
Ari Melber (The Nation):
As Hillary Clinton aims to regain momentum in tonight's presidential debate, new videos have surfaced on YouTube with young voters asking her questions that are similar to the fake question posed by a Grinnell college student last week. meldoecase, include Clinton's answers to both questions.The YouTube clips, which were posted Wednesday night under the account
One way for the Clinton Campaign to address questions about the new clips would be to release the original list of fake questions. Then voters could see for themselves what other topics were proposed for planting, and confirm that last week's plants were an isolated incident.
Howie P.S.: Ari was on The Young Turks this morning and he reminded us that Bush has been planting questions and requiring "tickets" for admission, as a way of controlling the questions, for years.