Chelsea Clinton Should Have Expected "The Question"

Last Updated Mar 29, 2008 11:49 PM EDT

You can't tell me that the Clinton campaign is so unprepared that it hasn't given a great deal of thought to how to handle questions about the Monica Lewinsky affair. It was the defining moment of the Clinton presidency and may determine the outcome of this year's race.

So how could it be that Chelsea Clinton had such a lame answer when she was asked about it at a campus campaign appearance this week?

Here's the exchange via the Associated Press [slightly edited by me to put it in Q&A form]:

Butler University student: "[What's your opinion of] the criticism of [your] mother of how she handled the Lewinsky scandal [and how it] might be a sign of weakness and she might not be a strong enough candidate to be president?"

Chelsea: "Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that is any of your business."

Terrible answer!

First of all, you don't insult the questioner.

Second, you have to have a much better answer than "none of your business." Because actually, it's definitely his business -- Hillary is running for president and he's a voter. Chelsea is her daughter and campaigning publicly on her behalf.

Third, the exchange tells me that she wasn't prepped for this question. I can't believe that Clinton's handlers told her to go the "none of your business" route. It makes her look childish [and therefore not a credible surrogate for her mother] and once again, it has us talking.

How about this for a better answer:

"What happened between my parents is personal and private. But I think mom has demonstrated the strength of her leadership time and time again, both as First Lady and in the Senate, and I think she's going to make a great President."
  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.