Hallmark moment for Clinton


NEW YORK -- Hallmark Channel said Thursday that it will televise live on Monday night a town hall meeting sponsored and paid for by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign from New York and elsewhere around the country.

"Hillary's Voices Across America: A National Town Hall" will be broadcast at 9 p.m. EST with Clinton live from a still-undisclosed location in Manhattan. Audiences will gather in 21 other states, each in front of a large screen. All the states, including New York and California, are having primaries the next night on Super Tuesday.

It wasn't clear how much the campaign paid for the time on Hallmark, which is available in 84 million homes nationwide. The request from the Clinton campaign to buy airtime came in Monday to Hallmark's Chicago office, and a deal was arranged a few days later. Hallmark is planning the customary disclaimers before the telecast.

Hallmark CEO Henry Schleiff said the channel has no involvement in the production of the hour.

"We are merely the conduit for this," Schleiff told The Hollywood Reporter. "They are producing it and handling all the logistics, although we will in fact be the single and exclusive network for this meeting."

Schleiff said the reason Hallmark was chosen has nothing to do with the fact that he has given money to Clinton and other mostly Democratic candidates, including $2,000 to Clinton's campaign in August.

"It's not about personal ties," he said. "This is not meant to be an endorsement of a political candidate." Instead, Schleiff said, it was an endorsement of revenue -- adding to the cable channel's revenue. And it also says something about the channel's reach to baby boomers in the heartland, he added.

Within the past day, Hallmark also reached out to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and John McCain to see whether they want to buy airtime as well, though it's not required under law. It's the first time the Hallmark Channel has run programming of this type.

Hallmark will carry live the first 60 minutes of the 90-minute event, which also will be streamed on HillaryClinton.com.

While Clinton will appear in front of a live audience in Manhattan, former President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and others in the campaign will be spread across the country. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and a Clinton supporter, said that the live town hall meeting format was chosen because of the challenges inherent in trying to get a campaign's message across in what has turned out to be a kind of national primary.

"It's hard to do when you're competing in as many states as we are," Weiner said.

For the Clinton campaign, it's another use of Web technology that has defined her campaign. She started her campaign via webcast, eschewing the traditional news conference.