The Corner

Politics & Policy

Did Jeb Bush Plant a Questioner at Trump’s ‘No Labels’ Event? (Probably Not.)

The curious tale of the Jeb Bush “plant” at Donald Trump’s “No Labels” appearance yesterday cries out for the application of common sense.

Speaking at the New Hampshire convention on Monday, Trump faced a hostile audience questioner by the name of Lauren Rose Batchelder. “Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don’t think you’re a friend to women,” said Batchelder. “I want to get paid the same as a man, and I think you understand that. So if you become president, will a woman make the same as a man, and do I get to choose what I do with my body?” The confrontation — in part because of Batchelder’s expressive body language — was picked up by mainstream media outlets.

Here is the exchange:

Now it turns out that Ms. Batchelder, a student at St. Anselm College, in Manchester, N.H., is an intern for the Jeb Bush campaign. Trump, and various conservative media, has leapt to condemn Bush for “planting” the questioner.

But I’m less convinced. Let’s say you are the devious, Machiavellian Jeb Bush 2016 campaign: Is your ideal plant an (unpaid) intern who has been on the job since August, who has a lively social-media presence, who posted photos of herself chatting with Bernie Sanders in September and Hillary Clinton earlier this month, and who asked Trump approximately the same questions she asked Sanders and Clinton?

Maybe there’s more to this story. But I’ve also met dozens of Lauren Batchelders. Like bad facial hair and beef jerky, student activists with a jones for shouldering their way in front of candidates are not hard to come by on college campuses.

And as fumbling as political campaigns can be, this simply seems too, well, incompetent to be a conspiracy.

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