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Tempest in a Tip Jar

Maid Rite for Clinton

Updated: 1:08 p.m.

A kerfuffle over whether Sen. Hillary Clinton tipped a waitress in Iowa took a new twist on Thursday morning as the manager of a Maid Rite confirmed that Clinton aides did, in fact, leave money on their bill during a visit there last October.

The waitress who served Clinton, Anita Esterday, said in an interview that aired on NPR on Thursday that she had not gotten a tip. She also said publicity surrounding the visit hurt her at a second job, where her hours had been cut. Clinton made Esterday - a single mom working two jobs at low pay - into an icon of her campaign speeches after meeting her at the greasy spoon.

Brad Crawford, manager of the Maid Rite, said that a tip was left and a bill was paid.

"If the money didn't get dispersed properly, that happens sometimes," Crawford said. "Hillary didn't lay it on the counter."

Although he declined to say how much the bill or the tip was, Clinton campaign officials said that $100 was left on a $157 bill for shakes and burgers. Crawford said it "could have been" that Esterday simply did not get her share of the tip that day.

"Maybe they don't carry money, I don't know," the waitress, Anita Esterday, said.
(Hear the piece here.)

Esterday also said that her boss at another job cut back her hours after seeing her picture in the local paper with Clinton. And Esterday said she did not get the sense that Clinton felt her troubles, even though the candidate went on to use her as an example in speeches that followed (women earning minimum wage are, after all, a key Democratic demographic).

"I don't think she understood at all what I was saying," Esterday said.

During the visit, though, Clinton did understand one thing: That Esterday was virtually the only person in the Maid-Rite who didn't work either for the press or the Clinton campaign itself. Clinton wandered the greasy spoon looking for a real Iowan to "spontaneously" talk to before sitting down at the bar to order a hamburger. It was there that she met Esterday.

The Clinton campaign also corrected the Maid Rite record at its "Fact Hub" site.

-- By Anne E. Kornblut

By Washington Post editors  |  November 8, 2007; 11:02 AM ET
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I worked the drive thru at a Krystal for a while and every time a customer treated us like we were pond scum they drove away and I could see the W or the Bush/Cheney sticker on the back of their gas guzzling SUV.

Posted by: benmatheny | November 16, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I dont know if they tipped or not. I do know that my rich conservative Clinton Hating parents, Bill and Carol Matheny of Monroe, Ga. wouldnt give a damn if some poor server got a tip or not and leave maybe 50 cents as they pocket the extra crackers on the way out.

Posted by: benmatheny | November 16, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure I believe the assurances about leaving a tip, and I'll tell you why. If a tip WAS left, it would have been included on the charge slip for the meal. Why, you ask? To PROVE that they left a tip, and to account for the money spent in a campaign. Nobody is going to fish a $100 bill out of their pocket and not have some sort of receipt showing it was reimbursement from the campaign, right?

I do taxes for a living and I'm telling you -- any tip would have been written down on that charge slip. Period.

Posted by: gatosgal60 | November 12, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: stvcar | November 8, 2007 01:57 PM

When the general public seems to be better informed than a so-called, "journalist", the journalist should be taking a long, hard look in the mirror. How is it that I can find the direct quote from Ms. Esterday, and YOU STILL CAN'T?;

She said that when she and her colleague said they had not seen a tip, the staff member gave each of them $20.

Ms. Esterday said she did not understand what all the commotion was about.

"You people are really nuts," she told a reporter during a phone interview. "There's kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now -- there's better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn't get a tip."

Sarah Wheaton contributed reporting.

Posted by: gvb2k | November 10, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Forget this nonsense about tipping. Doctors study for 10+ years so they don't hurt their patients. Pilots fly for 1000's of hours before they can carry passengers. You have to be 3rd, 2nd ,1st mates before becoming a ship captain. But apparently to become a Commander in Chief all you have to do is to graduate from Welsley, be married to a President, stay married while he cheats, cheats and than cheats again.
The bottom line is; She is less qualfied for the job than GW. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

Posted by: hillary | November 10, 2007 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Why such a hubbub over the tip? The part of the story that bothered me was the fact that the waitress claimed that her hours at her second job had been reduced because her manager is not "a Clinton fan". Why dosen't this sort of political discrimination get any play?

Posted by: jfarrow | November 9, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

This story was such a (very lame) hatchet job. No one fact checked regardless of what others have posted here. I have worked in the service industry and when I first heard this story, I personally could think of several different scenarios that would result in the server not receiving her tip right away. Moreover, who would believe that someone on something akin to a publicity tour would purposely stiff a server in a diner while the press is watching? This was moronic food for fat idiots like Rush "pill-popper" Limbaugh to feast upon (which while stuck in a taxi I was forced to listen to him rant for 20 minutes on this non-topic).

Posted by: blatker | November 9, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

How could you possible spend $157 at a Maid-Rite Diner? I am baffled. The most expensive thing on the menu is about $7.

Posted by: bobnweho | November 9, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

So Easterday's one boss stole her tip and her other boss retaliated against her - most likely illegally - for the press coverage and it's somehow Hillary Clinton's fault?

I don't like Clinton and I'm not going to vote for her in the primary's, but COME ON, this is b*llsh*t "journalism." This isn't even muckraking, because there is no muck here.

(And trust me, I'd LOVE some more muckraking on Hillary Clinton, but I've got this neurosis about only holding something against a candidate if it's TRUE and if it MATTERS ... this whole "article" falls short on both counts.)

Posted by: djmagaro | November 9, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh, so now that you know that the story is baloney, how about you take it down.

Posted by: nrglaw | November 8, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Holy smoke, what a crappy story. The end is the really amazing part, where Hillary after allegedly stiffing the waitress turns out to have a left a $100 tip instead. Anne, that is almost a 200% tip! THERE'S your story.

Posted by: nrglaw | November 8, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

More meowing from the Ceci Connolly/Kit Seelye/Stephanie Mansfield wannabe.
Anything to make Clinton sound like a phony.
By the way, where's the Obama paragraph that was in this log the first time around earlier this morning?
Oh, that unresearched (lie) was removed.

Posted by: edlharris | November 8, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

It must have been a real SLOW newsday for the press. But I do feel for the waitress. What Hillary should have done was taken over her job for an hour and see what it is like to have a REAL job!

Posted by: janet.keyser | November 8, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

As of 4:47pm today as this is posted, NPR has not withdrawn the story, but has tried to contact the parties involved. There was a similar incident in Albion, NY in February, 2000. See link below.

Senator Clinton's "Fact Checker" reeks of Joseph Goebbels, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove and that ilk. After reading the so-called "offenses", I can't help but think the actual truth is somewher out in left field and not where Wolfson, Penn, Mc Auliffe and the rest of the "Hillary Handlers" hope it is. Further, any campaign that leaves a $100 tip for a $157 bill is unworthy of further contributions. A lot of us are waiting for the other "Hus" to drop.

I must also admit to some amusement when I say a couple of headlines that said "Clinton Stiffs Waitress". I thought this was 1996. He Yogi! "Deja vu all over again!" Come on Hillary, you can do better than this!

Posted by: NoMugwump | November 8, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Money usually gets "disbursed" rather than "dispersed". Except in the Bush Administration, which basically just disperses it.

Posted by: zenwick | November 8, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I have a few thoughts:

1) What utter hor*es**t this article is. This fluffy excrement continues to detract from the real issues. There's never any coverage of the millions of conservative rural New Yorkers who were skeptical of her at first, but really like what she's done for their state. She didn't win on New York City alone.

2) While I respect an Iowan waitress as much as anyone else, the Iowan waitress demographic has become way too policially powerful in today's warped primary system. Iowan waitresses, while not earning top wages in this nation, are exponentially more influential than the other 100 million+ Americans who are eligible to vote.

3) Years and years ago when I was waiting tables, I waited on Regis Philbin. The restaurant comped his meal and his driver tipped me $5.00. It didn't change my life, but I have a roof over my head, some good friends and I ate breakfast this morning, so slife is good.

Posted by: deaniac | November 8, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Did any commenters actually listen to the NPR account?

The original story questioned how people used as "photo-ops" actually felt about the candidates with whom they interacted, after the meeting. NPR tracked down a person who Clinton referenced in a speech and asked how she felt about Clinton and the interaction. It was actually an interesting piece. Anyway, the lady was working for $7 an hour and never received a tip. That was a fact, reported directly from the individual who didn't receive a tip (direct quote). So, the post isn't totally off-base. The post actually checked facts in this case, and dug up more of the story. It should get some credit. However, seems like the restaurant made out well, but the little guy (gal) got screwed. The post flushed out a pretty telling analogy from the original NPR story. The company got paid well, and the single mom of two, used her minimum wage to put two gallons in her car. I'm still undecided, but was surprised that Hillary didn't leave a direct tip to the lady she so desperately wants to help. This didn't display much compassion for the single-working mom.

If it helps the pro-Hillary faction, the NPR story didn't give me a warm feeling for Obama either. His quote referring to a very sick man, "maybe i'll write him a letter." - weak.

Funny enough, both the Clinton interation and Obama interaction both procured votes for their respective candidacies. All details aside, showing up and listening is half the battle.

Posted by: piper | November 8, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Okay, who are you going to believe? A hard working waitress and her co-workers or the crookedest corporate hack in recent memory? It all boils down to that. I think Clinton and her gang would stiff anyone on a bar tab or a tip in a heartbeat. They already stiffed Amercian workers with their mindless support of outsourcing, guest workers, illegal immigrants... anything for buck.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | November 8, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

poor anne. her story fell apart. and such a waste of "". tsk tsk.

no hardball appearance for you tonite.

Posted by: mycomment | November 8, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Tip $100 on a $157 bill? What will they do if they get into our money?

Posted by: radish12 | November 8, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Clinton wandered the greasy spoon looking for a real Iowan to "spontaneously" talk to before sitting down at the bar to order a hamburger.
Remove the "spontaneously" and that sounds like Clinton was doing what you would hope a candidate would do. With it she sounds like a fraud.

Which begs the question: Is that a real quote? Can you attribute that to either Clinton or her staff? If not, where do you get off making up quotes to slam a candidate?

Posted by: vamoroso | November 8, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm not the biggest Hillary fan but I can't blame them for refuting a "stiff the waitress" story. Ronjaboy, if I accuse you of not tipping, you're going to let it slide because you have a good sense of humor? Let me accuse you of throwing iceballs at the paperboy while I'm at it.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | November 8, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Those of us who work in the service industry can understand how peeved Ms. Esterday would be. First off, if Ms. Esterday feels hillary didn't understand or connect with what she was saying... then hillary didn't. Secondly, if my hours got cut after an interview I'd be asking the candidate for a job, or to shut up about me and our chance meeting.

We are working people, slogging through the reality outside the beltway bubble. We are not show props.

hillary is NO DIFFERENT than ANY OTHER SELF-PROMOTING POLITICIAN on the campaign trail.

Posted by: onestring | November 8, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Color me sceptical on the latest account. Hillary did this before when she ran for the Senate. And the diner is postage stamp size. I doubt anyone working there would miss the hand over of the check and money or that if one waitress saw that, the server wouldn't have been told.

Posted by: clarice2 | November 8, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

What's a Maid-Rite anyways?

Posted by: thegribbler1 | November 8, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Do Clinton supporters get their sense of humor-ectomy before or after they become supporters? Since Hillary is famous for not having a sense of humor are they trying to be just like her?

Posted by: ronjaboy | November 8, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The only person whose testimony counts in this story is that of the waitress. She said she didn't get a tip. End of story. The manager said they left $100 on the bill, but it sounds like he didn't share the tip. Anne included both versions in her story, so lay off her. And anyway who leaves $100 tips at the MaidRite? Hill spends other people's money like it is her own, and this doesn't bode well if she is the eventual winner. She just does not inspire much confidence does she. Where oh where is a trustworthy Demorat? Oh yeah, Bill Richardson. That's the one.

Posted by: stvcar | November 8, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse


You did the right thing by revising the story and headline to reflect the facts.

Credit where it's due!

Posted by: JoeCHI | November 8, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The bigger question is, "How did Clinton manage to spend $157 at a small diner?" Did they buy a round of burgers and shakes for the whole place?

Posted by: ezcheese81 | November 8, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Blue collar women are big on Hillary - wasn't that a story just last week, based on updated polls? Good for them.
Glad they are. I think Hillary "gets" women of all financial straights and I salute her for trying to talk to this Iowa mom.
Go Hill - you are the first candidate I have ever sent money to. I will send more.
BTW - tips should always be handed to the person or left at your table. Tips (in cash) left at the cashier or with manager always go into a pool divided with others or are re-routed and diminished by the time they get to you. I waitressed thru U of MD at OC and Bethany and the trick is to grab your tip and roll on. Otherwise there's always a slice off the top...

Posted by: OrlandoNan | November 8, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The headline should read "Clinton Tips 63%".

Posted by: g-lo | November 8, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Esterday's boss stole her tip!

Why doesn't anyone care about that?
What a shmuck.

That said, Clinton has always been, and continues to be, a phony.

Posted by: julieds | November 8, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

NPR covered this too - as finanical markets collapse and a nuclear Islamic dictatorship destabilizes, this is pretty heady stuff.

Since there was actually $100 left, I'm sure they'll air a retraction tomorrow. Or maybe Hillary bribed the manager! We need to get to the bottom of this quickly.

And Anne, LOVE the quotes around "spontaneous." I'm sure Guiliani and Romney get the same treatment from you when they talk to the commoners, right?

Poor Anne. Still jealous of the popular girls.

Posted by: HeavyJ | November 8, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Scott says:
This tactic of the Clinton campaign and their supporters to see every story that isn't glowing about Hillary as a personal attack by the media or rival campaigns is really annoying

Overstating quite a bit, aren't you? If you can explain the valid journalistic purpose for... well, any sentence in that article, I'd be interested to hear it. Thanks.

Posted by: zukermand | November 8, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is this story still being reported, and why are the flawed details of the original story in the headlines? This is a disgrace to the Washington Post.

Posted by: bllayman | November 8, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update, but...
"A kerfuffle over whether Sen. Hillary Clinton tipped a waitress in Iowa took a new twist on Thursday morning as the manager of a Maid Rite confirmed that Clinton aides did, in fact, leave money on their bill during a visit there last October."

A new twist? If ceasing to exist as a true event is "a new twist", I suppose. I would expect something like "turns out to be false" but hey, I guess I'm being picky. Cute how you specify the aides as the tippers, just the kind of detail we've come to expect in only one place in journalism, Anne's coverage of Sen Clinton. Thanks for that.

Posted by: zukermand | November 8, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Kornblut is an excellent reporter. If the Clintonites have a beef, it's with NPR which ran the interview with the waitress without verifying that part of her story where she said she did not get a tip. This tactic of the Clinton campaign and their supporters to see every story that isn't glowing about Hillary as a personal attack by the media or rival campaigns is really annoying. Every time it happens, it makes me far less inclined to vote for her in the primary or the general.

Posted by: scott_farris | November 8, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Until she initiates a BILL that passes on the Hill she should forfeit pay. Hillary should get paid for performance like the waitress, not get paid just to show up for work on the Hill everyday.

Posted by: virgin12 | November 8, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Pressure Clinton to oppose amensty for illegals and fight for working Americans. Join:

Posted by: sskyvickers | November 8, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Clinton wandered the greasy spoon looking for a real Iowan to "spontaneously" talk to before sitting down at the bar to order a hamburger."

I think it is safe to presume Anne is no longer pretending to function as a professional journalist. Will the Post please reconsider the decision to have her play such an important role in this election. It is just fundamentally, morally wrong.

Posted by: zukermand | November 8, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

So Kornblut fails to research the veracity of her story and still writes a misleading headline.

What embarrassing journalism!

Perhaps Kornblut thinks that Clinton should have taken the tip to the waitress's bank and deposit into the waitresses savings account for her?

Posted by: JoeCHI | November 8, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Anne, your "poster child" reference is unprofessional. Please stop.

Posted by: zukermand | November 8, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

You may rest assured, with the disproving of the no-tip allegation, Anne has lost interest in this event and will report no further. Once one understands Anne's goal is not to inform us, but to "get" Sen Clinton, it's easy to anticipate her.

Posted by: zukermand | November 8, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

*** UPDATE *** The Clinton campaign says, "The campaign spent $157 and left a $100 tip at the Maid-Rite Restaurant."

*** UPDATE 2 *** The manager of the of the restaurant tells First Read the Clinton campaign did, in fact, tip. "They paid their bill, and they left a tip," said Brad Crawford, manager of the Maid Rite restaurant in Toledo, Iowa. "Everybody was satisfied. No question about it."

Posted by: JoeCHI | November 8, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton did leave a $100 tip according to Phil Singer. Come on Washington Post do your research.

Posted by: JUAN_T_2004 | November 8, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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