MSNBC's Culhane on NH hostage situation: "Does [Clinton] pick up the phone ... or does she let the police and the FBI handle it?"

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During the November 30 edition of MSNBC Live, correspondent Patty Culhane discussed a hostage situation at the Rochester, New Hampshire, campaign office of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in which the hostage-taker reportedly demanded to talk to Clinton. Culhane speculated on the "interesting political dilemma for Senator Clinton":

CULHANE: And that's going to be an interesting political dilemma for Senator Clinton. Because, as you know, the policy of this country is that they do not negotiate with terrorists. And so the question is going to be, does she pick up the phone, does she engage in dialogue with this person, or does she let the police and the FBI handle it?

Obviously, just speaking with someone doesn't necessarily mean that they're negotiating, but if this person wants to speak directly to Senator Clinton, that puts her in a very tough political position that people will be judging her on. Does she pick up the phone, does she make that call to try and help her campaign staffers?

The Clinton campaign released a statement that said, "There is an ongoing situation in our Rochester, NH office. We are in close contact with state and local authorities and are acting at their direction. We will release additional details as appropriate." According to the November 30 edition of National Journal's Last Call!, the Clinton campaign statement was released at 2:50 p.m. ET, a few minutes after Culhane's comments.

From the 2 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on November 30:

CONTESSA BREWER (anchor): Once again, we're following breaking news out of New Hampshire. A hostage situation there on Main Street in Rochester. An armed suspect, police say, barged into this very small campaign office on four people who worked there. He told everybody, "Get down on the ground. I have a bomb strapped to my chest." And they looked up, and they saw what looked like a bomb strapped to his chest with duct tape.

He did let one woman leave with her infant, and she ran out and told someone at a nearby business, "Hey, call 911. There's a hostage-taker inside my office."

Back to Patty Culhane now. What we're hearing, Patty, is that the hostage-taker wants to speak with Senator Clinton.

CULHANE: That's right, Contessa. And that's going to be an interesting political dilemma for Senator Clinton. Because, as you know, the policy of this country is that they do not negotiate with terrorists. And so the question is going to be, does she pick up the phone, does she engage in dialogue with this person, or does she let the police and the FBI handle it?

Obviously, just speaking with someone doesn't necessarily mean that they're negotiating, but if this person wants to speak directly to Senator Clinton, that puts her in a very tough political position that people will be judging her on. Does she pick up the phone, does she make that call to try and help her campaign staffers?

I can tell you, she was supposed to speak here at this DNC [Democratic National Committee] meeting in Washington. She has canceled her appearances. We are so far getting absolutely no comment from the campaign. We were there as they learned about it, and obviously their first response was concern for the people who are in that office.

They obviously know each other fairly well. It's been already a long campaign. And then, obviously, they all went in behind closed doors, shut the door, and stopped talking. They wouldn't answer basic questions about how many people normally work in that office, where Senator Clinton is right now. And as to whether or not she's going to pick up the phone and try to negotiate with this person, well, we haven't heard.

I can tell you that the news is being met with shock by most of these delegates. They announced that there was a hostage situation, and that Senator Clinton would not be speaking. We heard from Representative Dennis Kucinich [D-OH], who said that -- he said that his thoughts are with Senator Clinton. They stand in solidarity. Senator Joe Biden [D-DE] has taken the stage. So far I haven't heard him say anything, but we'll let you know what we find out from this end. Contessa.

BREWER: All right, Patty, thank you so much for the update, I appreciate it.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Patty Culhane
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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