Hillary Responds to Accusations Her Campaign Planted Questions At Public Appearances

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton responded to allegations Sunday that her presidential campaign had planted questions during public appearances.

At a media event in Waterloo, Iowa, Clinton responded to a reporter's question about two separate incidents, one that occurred this week at a biodiesel plant in Newton, and the other in April on a farm outside Fort Madison, both in Iowa.

"Well it was news to me" Clinton said. "And neither I nor my campaign approve of that. And it will certainly not be tolerated."

The reporter went on to ask if she knew of other incidents beyond those reported.

Clinton responded saying, "You know everything I know."

Clinton's presidential campaign came under fire Friday when FOX News first reported that a Grinnell College student was prompted to ask Clinton a question about climate change.

"This is not standard policy and will not be repeated again," the campaign said in a statement issued Friday night. Clinton herself did not know when she called on the student that the question had been suggested by one of her staff, the campaign said.

But it may not have been the first time.

In a telephone interview Saturday, Geoffrey Mitchell, 32, said he was approached by Clinton campaign worker Chris Hayler to ask a question about how she was standing up to President Bush on the question of funding the Iraq war and a troop withdrawal timeline.

The encounter happened before an event hosted by Iowa State Sen. Gene Frais on a farm outside Fort Madison, Iowa.

Clinton's Iowa campaign confirmed that one of its staff discussed questions with Mitchell before her April 2 event, but denied attempting to plant a pro-Clinton question.

Mo Elliethee, spokesman for Clinton's campaign in Iowa, told FOX News that Hayler and Mitchell "had a previous relationship" and that a discussion about Clinton arose out of a normal conversation between two people who knew each other well.

"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."

Mitchell, however, said that he and Hayler did not know each other personally before the event.

"I had no previous relationship with him," said Mitchell. "I knew his name and by name only as someone who worked for Senator Evan Bayh. But we didn't know each other and I had never met him before this event."

Mitchell said the Clinton campaign wanted to contrast Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama who had recently said the president would probably prevail in the Iraq funding battle with Congress.

Mithell said he refused to ask the question.

"I told Chris I had other issues I wanted to raise with Senator Clinton," Mitchell said.

Asked what those were, Mitchell said, "I wanted to ask her why she voted for the Iraq war and why she didn't consider that a mistake."

Mitchell said Hayler, the Clinton campaign worker, was unhappy with his response and moved on to other audience members.

"I know he tried to have others ask that question," Mitchell said.

Asked if the Clinton campaign denied Mitchell's unequivocal assertion that Hayler tried to plant a question 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 said, referring to Mitchell. "I'm going to discuss what our interpretation is. They had a previous relationship, the subject came up and there's nothing more to it than that. It's not newsworthy. It's innocent. It's not yesterday."

That was a reference to Clinton's campaign admitting, first to FOX News, that it planted a question on global warming at a Newton, Iowa, event on Tuesday.

Click here to read a report on the Iowa incident.

Ultimately, Clinton took no questions from the crowd at the Fort Madison event that Mitchell attended. Elliethee said the campaign ran out of time to take questions.

Mitchell said he is an Obama supporter but cannot participate in the Iowa caucuses.

Mitchell is a minister in Hamilton and said he was reluctant to come forward because of the scrutiny he and his congregation might receive.

"But I thought this was important to get out and I want people to know what happened."

When contacted by FOX News and read Clinton's interpretation of events, Mitchell said: "I stand by my story completely."