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Has Hillary Clinton been upstaged by a staged question?

A flood of denials and conspiracy theories continued to flow Friday, three says after a seemingly random teenager asked the seemingly perfect question at a Clinton campaign event near Philadelphia.

The question came from Brennan Leach and gave Clinton a perfect opportunity to talk at length the mostly female audience about Donald Trump’s history of disparaging remarks about women. As the Internet sleuths quickly discovered, Brennan Leach, 15, happens to be the daughter of state Sen. Daylin Leach, a leader among Pennsylvania Democrats and a Clinton donor. They further found out she is listed in the Internet Movie Database, leading to accusations Clinton hired a professional actor to throw her a softball. 

Reading from a note, she began “At my school, body image is a really big issue for girls my age. I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look.” She then asked how Clinton could spread the message that “girls are so much more than what they look like.” Clinton was certainly ready for the question and pounced on it.

And upon discovering the teenager’s political connection, Trump supporters have pounced on Clinton.

Leach didn’t immediately respond to a message on Friday afternoon. According to Fox 43, a Leach spokesman called it “vile and disgusting” to suggest the event was staged. The story was quickly taken up by assorted conspiracy theory websites. The New York Times reported Brennan Leach said after the event that father had helped her form the question.

Snopes.com even tackled the subject of whether Clinton had “planted” a “hired” actor in the audience. It concluded Brennan Leach’s acting career so far consists of a small part in a short film, and there is no evidence the Clinton campaign hired and planted her. A Google search for Brennan Leach now produces dozens of headlines, stories and videos related to Tuesday’s event.

But it’s likely to die down soon enough, given the long history of accusations and the not uncommon practice of candidates “planting” such questions at political events.

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