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Questions for Hillary Clinton: Trolling the Candidate on the Campaign Trail

Following Bernie Sanders victory in Wisconsin—his seventh out of the last eight primaries and caucuses—Hillary Clinton remains ahead in the (super)delegate count. Her frontrunner status means the news media and citizen journalists ought to pose more questions to her in the coming months.

This is not easy given that Clinton has held very few press conferences during the campaign—it’s been about 120 days since the last one. She avoids the national press, wrote one reporter, out of “personal preference . . . and as a strategic choice.” Some voters might think she has something to hide, or would prefer not to defend her record or her policy prescriptions. Clinton’s lack of availability makes asking questions of her during public appearances all the more important.

There is of course no end to the questions voters might pose. Given time and access constraints, reporters and citizens can only ask one or two per encounter. What follows is a small selection that need asking where and whenever possible. These are not softballs, and are likely to be deemed “unfriendly” by the Clinton campaign; they are nonetheless fair and pertinent.

Why do young voters in general prefer Sen. Sanders?

Why do young woman voters prefer Bernie Sanders?

Why do independents prefer Sanders?

Why do the polls show you losing support nationally among Latinos?

Why did Sanders win a majority of young voters of color in Wisconsin?

Why do voters consider Sen. Sanders more honest than you?

How has Bernie Sanders been able to raise more money than you in recent months?

How come Sanders’ campaign contributors are more numerous than yours, and give smaller contributions?

How has Sanders been such a successful fundraiser given his rejection of Super PAC money?

Would your campaign be competitive if it weren’t for the contributions of a small number of rich people?

Why did you bristle when asked by a young Greenpeace activist about financial support from fossil fuel lobbyists?

Why did you recently criticize Bernie Sanders’ plan for free public college as a giveaway to “Donald Trump’s kids” when the children of the rich generally go to private universities?

Why do many of the polls show Sanders doing better against Trump and Cruz than you?

Do you regret your support for the Panama Free Trade Agreement while Secretary of State given its failure to reign in massive tax dodging and money laundering?

Why is your campaign getting nastier with Sen. Sanders, for example asking whether he’s “qualified” to be President?

The next big Democratic primary is New York on April 19. It’s incumbent upon reporters and voters in the media capital of the world to ask fair questions of the frontrunner. Nineteen states follow New York in coming weeks (including California, the biggest delegate prize of all). These questions should be edited and updated as circumstances dictate, and as voters and journalists see fit.

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Steve Breyman was a William C. Foster Visiting Scholar Fellow in the Clinton State Department, and serves as an advisor to Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

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