This article first appeared online at on Thursday, April 16, 2015: 

Presidential contender Hillary Clinton, who is driving across the United States ostensibly to talk to Americans and learn their concerns, was caught staging at least one of the meet-and-greets. And it took a British tabloid, the Daily Mail, to expose the as most U.S. were too busy fawning over Hillary’s new “common folk” approach in her latest campaign. 

Ironically, not even some of the left-wing participants, who were obviously brought in so that like-minded Americans would tell Clinton their political concerns, were let in on the deception ahead of time. Austin Bird, an intern who served with Barack ’s 2012 presidential campaign in Iowa, got a call from Troy Price, ’s former Iowa political director, asking him if he would like to sit down for coffee and discuss political strategy. When Bird arrived for the meeting, he was joined by Carter Bell, president of the University of Iowa’s College Democrats, and Sara Sedlacek who works for of the Heartland.

Bird told the reporter from the Daily Mail: 

What happened is, we were just asked to be there by Troy. We were asked to come to a meeting with Troy, the three of us, at the Village Inn. 

It was supposed to be a strategy meeting, to get our thoughts about issues. But then, all of a sudden, he says, “Hey, we have Secretary Clinton coming in. Would you like to meet her?” 

Troy then drove the three over to a coffee house where Clinton was going to be visiting with some regular Iowa common folk. Said Bird: 

We got in a car — Troy’s car — and we went up to the coffee house, and we sat at a table, and then Hillary just came up and talked with us. 

Just like that. Completely unrehearsed, completely transparent, completely accidental. Not!

Bird explained: “Troy asked us all to go to a meeting with him. We didn’t really know what it was about. I mean, he did. He knew.” 

CNN’s coverage of the event was typical: Clinton’s new “no-frills” campaign is designed to shed the image she created during her last effort to round up Iowa voters back in 2008, which blew up in her face. Then, she was the imperial queen condescending to visit with the common folk so that she could round up enough votes to win the caucus. Her supercilious attitude of entitlement came across to such an extent that not only did she lose to Obama, but also to that paragon of virtue, North Carolina’s then-Senator John Edwards. 

This time, according to CNN, was going to be different: 

Instead, Clinton is taking her first official steps on what she hopes is the road to the White House surrounded by starter motors and tools in a tiny auto repair shop and a low slung community college building in far eastern Iowa. 

And she just happened to wander into a coffee shop and engage some students who just happened to be sitting there, allowing them to hear the latest theme of her campaign: 

I’m running for president because I think that Americans and their families need a champion, and I want to be this champion. 

I want to stand up and fight for people so that they cannot just get by, but they [can] get ahead and they can stay ahead. 

Vacuous words signifying nothing to students who just happened to have been driven there by Clinton Democrat operatives to make the scene appear real and genuine and honest — all images that the new Clinton dearly wishes to portray. 

CNN continued its fawning coverage, quoting Clinton: 

I’m here in Iowa to begin a conversation … to hear from people about what’s on your minds, what the challenges that you see are. 

This down-home folksy act is part of the plan, as CNN explained: 

[Her Iowa visits are] a far cry from the 112-nation odyssey which encompassed some of the world’s most exotic spots when Clinton was secretary of state. It’s also a million miles away from the plush lifestyle of corporate jets [she arrived in a van] and presidential suites that cushioned her on the corporate speaking circuit. 

This time Clinton was focusing on the concerns facing “everyday Americans”: how to pay for college, how to survive as a working mom, how the kids can get better grades in school, that sort of thing. 

One Clinton operative explained the strategy: “There will be time later for bigger events.… In this first period we are focused on allowing Hillary to have these one-on-one conversations and hear from Iowans from all parts of the state.” 

Especially if they are already Clinton fans who are driven to the coffee shop for an impromptu session with the candidate. 

It’s called “astroturfing,” and the Clinton campaign has mastered the concept. Astroturfing seeks to create the impression of her visits with common everyday down-home Iowans as being spontaneous “grassroots” behavior. 

Thanks to CNN and others covering the charade, television viewers and other observers might conclude that Hillary has changed her spots, that she has the interests of ordinary Americans at heart, that she can be trusted with the mantle of the most powerful office in the land. 

Others who know how these visits were manipulated, however, thanks to the British press, might ask: Is there nothing she touches that isn’t manipulated for effect?

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