Clinton Campaign Says It Tipped Maid-Rite Waitress
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Now a follow-up and clarification of a story we aired about an Iowa waitress. In our story we reported on two women and their encounters with presidential candidates on the campaign trail. One, a waitress at a restaurant called Maid-Rite, said that after serving Hillary Clinton on October 8th she got no tip. And that caused a furor in the political blogs. Senator Clinton's campaign contacted NPR to say that in fact they left a sizeable tip at the diner - $100 - the day that Mrs. Clinton visited.
We've brought on NPR's David Greene, who reported the story, to explain why the confusion.
Good morning, David.
DAVID GREENE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: I guess the first question anybody would ask is - was there a tip or wasn't there?
GREENE: Well, Anita Esterday is the woman who served Hillary Clinton at the lunch counter back on October 8th, and she did not get a tip that day. I called her back yesterday to see if we had her story right. And she stressed to me again she's not angry at Hillary Clinton - in fact, she might vote for her, she told me - but she was disappointed that day that she was given no money for her service.
Now, after our story aired, Esterday said that a Clinton campaign staffer went to the restaurant yesterday morning and gave her a $20 bill. The campaign staffer said she was sorry that Esterday was not tipped back in October, but insisted that a tip was left the day that Clinton was at the diner.
And here's a little of what the waitress said about this visit yesterday from the woman from the Clinton campaign.
Ms. ANITA ESTERDAY (Waitress): She told me that they had paid with a credit card and had left a hundred dollar tip to be divided up amongst everybody that was working that day. I explained to her that our credit card machine, you know, doesn't add on the tip. And she says, well, then they left a hundred bill there. And I said, well, it didn't get divided up amongst us because I had gotten nothing.
MONTAGNE: So David, what did you find out? Was anyone tipped by the campaign? Was it divided up?
GREENE: Well, that's a separate question that we're also dealing with. The Clinton campaign told us that the campaign that day paid two tabs, and they actually sent us copies of the credit card receipts. They totaled about $157. And they said that in addition they left cash for tips for the restaurant staff, and they said that amounted to somewhere around a hundred dollars.
Now, we should say that the campaign wouldn't identify anyone for us to talk to who was actually at the diner that day and who could tell about the tip being left.
MONTAGNE: And of course with these things, it wouldn't have been just Hillary Clinton at the counter. Her campaign people would have been taking other tables. Could those waitresses have gotten tips; not just the people serving the senator?
GREENE: I think it's very possible. Clinton was at the lunch counter, and there were a number of other tables all around the restaurant. And as you said, people with the campaign were seated at those tables. And so I've spoken also to the restaurant manager, Brad Crawford, and he says he was not there the day that Clinton visited, but he is satisfied that at least several waitresses did receive their own tips. But he was not sure if anyone reached out to make sure that Anita Esterday got a tip for her service for Hillary Clinton.
And Esterday, the waitress, said that if her coworkers were told to share the tips they got, she's be surprised if they just took the money. And here's a little bit more of what the waitress had to say.
Ms. ESTERDAY: The ladies that were working that day have worked there for years, I mean some of them for 30 years, some of them for 25 years. And I've known a lot of these ladies most of my life living here too, and I can't imagine them pocketing it or not splitting it.
MONTAGNE: So we're left with a little bit of a she said/he said situation here. David, would some of these have been avoided if you had taken it to the campaign beforehand, this question about the tip; I mean wouldn't that be a pretty basic thing to do?
GREENE: Yeah. And since Anita Esterday had said on our air that nobody got tipped that day, which is different than saying just she did not get tipped - she said no one was tipped - I should have asked the campaign before the story aired if they could say if anyone was tipped and how exactly that happened. That would have made the tip, I think, a lot more of a focus of our story than I had intended. But it's clear I should have gotten their reaction upfront. That's way it's done.
MONTAGNE: David, thanks.
GREENE: Thanks, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's David Greene.