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Clinton camp accuses Edwards of acting like Bush


Written on 7:23 PM by yahoo

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- In a sign of the increasingly bitter feud between the leading Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign Monday accused John Edwards of acting like President Bush and dividing Democrats.

A student says she was told what to ask during a Clinton event in Newton, Iowa.

On Saturday, Edwards, while campaigning in Iowa, criticized the Clinton camp for planting a question in the audience, saying the practice is "what George Bush does."

"George Bush goes to events that are staged, where people are screened, where they're only allowed to ask questions if the questions are favorable to George Bush and set up in his favor," the former senator from North Carolina said.

But it is Edwards who is acting more like the sitting Republican president, the Clinton camp says.

"What George Bush does is attack Democrats and divide the country," Clinton campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said Monday. "Sen. Edwards' campaign resembles that more and more every day."

Edwards comments came after the Grinnell College's "Scarlet and Black" newspaper reported a student's account of being pulled aside before a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa, and asked to pose a specific question.

"They were canned," Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff said in an interview with the newspaper. "One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask]."

Gallo-Chasanoff said she was told the campaign wanted the question, about what Clinton would do for the environment, to be asked by a college student. She said Clinton was prompted to call on her as well as another student seen in conversation with staffers before the event.

The Clinton camp acknowledges they suggested a student ask a certain question, but said Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event.

"It was news to me," Clinton told reporters, "and neither I nor my campaign approve of that, and it will certainly not be tolerated."

A second person has also come forward saying a Clinton staffer encouraged him to ask Clinton a question at an event in Iowa this spring.

"He asked me if I would ask Sen. Clinton about ways she was going to confront the president on the war in Iraq, specifically war funding," said Geoffrey Mitchell, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. "I told him it was not a question I felt comfortable with."

No questions were taken at the event. Elleithee said the staffer "bumped into someone he marginally knew" and during a conversation with Mitchell, "Iraq came up." Elleithee denied the campaign tried to plant him as a friendly questioner in the audience.

But Mitchell said he'd never met the Clinton staffer before that event.

Edwards was not the only rival for the Democratic presidential nomination to criticize Clinton. Obama also made a subtle dig at the front-runner while campaigning in New Hampshire Monday.

"I'll let Sen. Clinton answer for her campaign," Obama told reporters. "When I go into a town hall meeting, I never know what questions to expect and that's a good thing, because the people of New Hampshire should expect that their candidates are going to hear what's on the voters' minds and not what's been concocted by the candidate's staff."

After saying that he has sometimes received questions on the campaign trail that have stumped him, Obama said planting questions is "not a practice that we've ever engaged in and it's not a practice that we ever plan to engage in."

On Saturday, another candidate, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, said, "It's not a terribly wise thing to do."

Speaking at an event in Trident Technical College, in North Charleston, South Carolina, Monday, former President Clinton said his wife could take the criticism, The Associated Press reported.

"Even though those boys have been getting tough on her lately, she can handle it," Clinton said, according to the AP.

One Iowa political science professor said he doesn't believe planted questions are a big deal, but said they provide ammunition to opponents.

"This is just one more, essentially, distraction and one more piece of a general sort of raising of questions about her competence as a campaigner," said Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University.

courtesy of cnn


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