April 4th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
4 years ago

Penn calls trade meeting 'error in judgment'

Mark Penn is a chief strategist for the Clinton campaign.
Mark Penn is a chief strategist for the Clinton campaign.

(CNN) - Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn said Friday it was an "error in judgment" for him to meet with the Colombian ambassador to advocate for a free-trade agreement Hillary Clinton has said she opposes.

"The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated and I am sorry for it," Penn said in an issued statement. "The senator's well known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed."

The meeting, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, occurred Monday. Penn appears to have been acting in his role as chief executive of the international communications and lobbying firm, Burson-Marsteller Worldwide. The Colombian Embassy hired the firm to help achieve congressional approval of a bill allowing free trade with the country - a proposal Clinton has sharply criticized.

Earlier Friday, Clinton spokesperson Mo Elleithee said the New York senator "remains steadfast against the Colombian Trade Bill," and maintained Penn's meeting was "not in any way done on behalf of the campaign."

Clinton has sharply criticized America's free trade agreements as she campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, and was particularly critical of rival Barack Obama in February when it was reported that one of his chief foreign policy advisors had suggested to a Canadian official that the Illinois senator was not as anti-free trade as he was claiming to be on the trail.

"I don't think people should come to Ohio and tell the people of Ohio one thing and then have your campaign tell a foreign government something else behind closed doors," Clinton said then. "That's the kind of difference between talk and action and that I've been pointing out in this campaign."

"I would ask you to look at that story, substitute my name for Senator Obama," she also said. "If some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments and basically saying ignore what I'm saying because it's only political rhetoric ... I think it raises serious questions."

Earlier: Campaign: Penn wasn't representing Clinton in trade meeting


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Mark Penn
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Larry Dickman Des Moines, IA

    Ready for Day 1, I don't think so

    April 4, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. RP

    He's got nothing to hide, it's Hillary that's lying. She claims not to support the free trade agreement because it's election year, any other time, just like with NAFTA, she would support it and once elected she'd just flip flop back!

    April 4, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. shawna

    Why is Obama being mentioned in this case? There is no camparison between the Canadian case (which was a lie)and this. Clinton's chief campaign strategist was out strategizing with Colombia on free trade.Something Clinton supposedly opposes.
    America needs healing, not all this CLINTON drama. Please go home to New York, Bill, Hill and Chelsea and leave us alone. No More Lies PLEASE!!!
    Let Obama start the fight with Mccain now. We have a lot of work to do

    April 4, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Veterans Love Obama

    I think his hairstyle is an error in judgement.

    April 4, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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