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. SPYTURTLE

    Kick him to the curb, like anyone involved with the Clinton's. Time for a re-vote for Ohio and Texas!

    April 4, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. David

    yeah right, Mr. Penn. certainly something not on the level going on here.

    April 4, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. Jackie, AL

    UNBELIEVABLE!! Her CHIEF campaign strategist is meeting with foreign governments to orchestrate and push through Congress free-trade deals Hillary Clinton CLAIMS she is opposed to – puuhhhleeez.
    Maybe he Mismet, just like she Misheard the question about what she said to Richardson and Misspoke when she said she took SNIPER FIRE. Duck, Hillary, duck!!

    April 4, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. HC

    The colombian connection? hmmmm. So now the world has turn around and it's the other side that's sitting on hot coals. This really does not implicate Hillary, but she should send a strong message to voters. Fire him or you will loose all credibility that is left Hillary.

    Mr. Penn must realize that he's on a team and not on his own.

    April 4, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. jo

    If she could not control few hundred or thousend people. How is she going to serve over 300 million in here and billions of world population.

    April 4, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. @americans

    MARK PENN=LOBBYIST

    BILLARY CLINTON = "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."

    BILLARY CLINTON = SERIOUS QUESTIONS? = LIAR!!!!

    April 4, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Denise

    Too Bad So Sad – more and more we see HRC for exactly who she is...a self serving hypocrite – will justify anything go get back in the White House. Of course the media is sure to smooooth right over this and Hill will make light of it in her next speech.....We're Not Stupid Hillary. Go Home Already!!! PENNSYLVANIA – pay Attention!

    April 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Swalker327

    Let the chips fall where they may! 1st she "mispoke" and now an "error in judgement" - lots of mishaps egh Hil??

    CAN YOU SAY HYPOCRYTE??!!

    OBAMA '08

    April 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. CB

    I wonder how many voted for Hillary, had the opportunity would take
    their vote back today?

    Maybe all of FL, MI, OH, TX and NM.

    April 4, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Alimi

    Leave Mark Penn alone, he is free to do what he likes, after all the poor guy has not been paid by the Clinton campaign for months and he has bills (no pun intended), to pay. I have an idea, what about we set up a special fund to pay the guy, then he can distance himself from the lobby group he works for.

    April 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Ronnie Rucker

    The true story is Penn did this out of revenge because he hasn't gotten paid yet.

    April 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Nas

    I'm an Obama supporter but I've liked Clinton too. This is just it for me, I can't stomach any more. First, it was its all about the delegates. Now she loosing those so its oh pledged delegates are up for grabs. Then lets count Michigan and Florida after she agreed they wouldn't be counted. Then the whopper about Bosnia. Now this nonsense. Its unreal. I can't say that I like her or Bill. They've just done to much. Enough already!!!! Go away!!!!

    April 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. Dave

    Again Hillary has egg on her face.
    It's "we the people" not "we the Clintons"

    More Hillary double-talk .

    America.... Hillary cannot be trusted to tell us the truth.

    Any more sniper fire?

    April 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. RocketScience

    So basically we're being told that Mr. Penn, a top-level member of the Clinton campaign staff, mispoke and Hillary Clinton should not be held accountable for those words. Yet the Clinton campaign and its supporters take any opportunity to hold Barack Obama accountable to the words spoken by his pastor.

    You can't have it both ways.

    April 4, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Ernest

    Another poor judgement by the Clinton machines. What happens when the clock rings by 3:00 AM?

    April 4, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Liz

    This siswhat happens when you have an active lobbyist (and a powerful one at that) as one of your chief campaign aides. Clearly one can't expect that every single person on her staff will agree with her on everything. But when a chief strategist is on someone else's payroll to actively fight against her positions, that kind of looks . . well. . . BAD. It's hard to make a case for your own integrity when your right hand people are paid to follow the interests of the highest bidder..

    April 4, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. FN

    hillary keep lie. I don't understand why all intelligent American do not see that? Why they keep send Free money to this lady to spend? I think they bettter send that money to Charity must better. Stop send check to her campaing....She will history in 1 month or do not go listen to her.

    April 4, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Mary

    It is amazing to me that people aren't able to see that BOTH candidates are doing these things. CNN and the MSM only seem to want to report on Hillary when Obama is just as guilty.
    I think Penn is an idiot and I hope Hillary tells him to get lost.

    April 4, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Phil in KC

    How can Hillary claim to be against a trade agreement with Columbia and, at the same time, employ someone who is actively lobbying for this trade agreement. Doesn't make sense.

    April 4, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Chris

    His worst judgment is that bad combover.

    April 4, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Susan from Reno

    I cannot believe this! First, Mark Penn needs to resign (or be cut) from the Clinton Campaign. Second, to have any chance left at all, Hillary has a lot of mending fences to do to try to re-convince voters that she was in the dark as to the actions and intentions of her campaign strategist. This, combined with her hypocrisy in NAFTA finally really convinces me that she is not sincere in her trade stance or with the American people. She is proving that it is true what people say – that she is willing to say and do anything just to win power - including lying to our faces. In my book, Hillary Clinton has now lost the right to say that she supports the American worker!

    SHAME ON YOU, HILLARY!

    April 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Daniel

    One thing Americans cannot stand is HYPOCRITES!! The more I learn about the Clinton campaign and their dealings, the less I think of them. I wonder how they plan to spin this one

    April 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. Ozzy, NYC

    Please Hillary, longer race damages the Clinton brand harshly. Please stop this stubborn attitude before you are defeated in PA. It is over, I mean it. Please Hillary supporters tell her, it is over, enough, time is up, game over....

    April 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. DG_NJ

    Wow Hilary's ship is sinking fast. I starting to think this thing might be wrapped up after PA. Let's all hope so we can unite the party and move on to the major task at hand John McCain.

    Obama '08

    April 4, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    He would not be my Chief Strategist

    April 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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