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. Daniel

    Oops – how about them apples? Pretty convenient for Mr. Penn huh? Should we believe that Hillary knows "nothing"?
    Cheez – what a mess we have!

    April 4, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Michael

    Hummm, this could be construed as another incident of "poor judgement" on Sen. Clinton's part?

    I'm not sayin.. I'm just sayin...

    April 4, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Suzette

    You've got to be kidding. Does she think people are stupid? Yes, Penn has another job, which directly contradicts what she claims to stand for. So, what kind of judgement does she show having a campaign strategist who's job is to represent a position opposite of what her campaign position is. I think I'll substitute her name in the story of who was actually meeting with the people from Canada?

    I completely agree with you Jack. This woman is just too sleazy.

    April 4, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. ann

    I support HIllary and know she had nothing to do with this.....that being said........Penn needs to go.

    Obama failed by not getting rid of the person who was talking to the Canadians........It would seem because he was doing it with Obamas approbal.

    Now Hillary needs to show that she has better judgment than Obama and release Penn.

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. ???

    Ehem...well....huh?

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. Texas

    Whatever it takes to get votes.....the people in Ohio should be upset and feel mislead, yet again by the Clinton campaign.

    Whatever it takes to get votes....

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Tony Z- MD

    This is one of those wink wink moments.

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. GJ

    So she claim shes against Free Trade i.e. Nafta but her cheif strategist is someone who is involved in trade meetings.

    Wow this speaks volumes about Hillary.

    So either she really isnt against trade like she claims; or she doesnt know how to pick a team.

    Either way Hillary please release your tax retruns so we can cue the curtains on your campaign.

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. kathleen

    Hillary to Penn! No, No, not now!! Wait until I get elected!!!!!

    OBAMA 2008

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Wake up

    We don't need a president that can't make accurate statements because they are "sleep deprived".

    Vote Obama.

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Kevin

    I'll take his word too "an error in judgement"

    He erred in judging that the race would be over on Feb. 4th. He's erred in every way, running Mrs. Clinton's campaign into the ground.

    Her error in judgement is in employing him.

    April 4, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Krissy, FL

    YEAH, RIGHT!

    April 4, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Bill W - PA

    Why is this a surprise to anyone? She has consistently lied about outsourcing and free trade agreements. She brought the Indian outsourcer into NY, and now claims she will end outsourcing. She wrote in her book that she was for NAFTA, now says she was against it. Her people called the Canadians and told them not to worry about NAFTA, and blamed it on Obama.

    Now here she goes again. This is typical of Clinton – she is a liar who tells people what they want to hear, then does what she wants.

    April 4, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. KY for Obama

    CNN, please be fair – lets not forget to add to this story that it turned out to be CLINTON's campaign and NOT Obama's that had contacted Canadian officials to say that opposition to NAFTA was simply campaign rhetoric. This bit of information was terribly under-reported then, as now; and is especially important in light of this new story.

    April 4, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Kevin

    I guess Penn forgot that Hillary is trying to run a campaign. HELLO! Trying to run a campaign here! Do you mind??

    ahahahaha

    April 4, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. ellianna

    ONE MORE DECEPTIVE SKELETON OUT OF THE CLINTON CLOSET!!

    April 4, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Mike

    This story strikes me as absolutely astounding. First, because it creates an incredible conflict of interest and conflict of purpose on the part of Penn and the entire Clinton campaign.

    Second, and most dramatically, this comes on the heels of the outright lies that were manufactured by the Clinton campaign prior to the Ohio and Texas primaries about Obama's aid supposedly negating Obama's message on NAFTA in a meeting with a representative of the Canadian government.

    The Clinton campaign's "report" about the Obama aid was verified as false by the Canadian government itself. Penn's meeting however, is all too true.

    The Clinton campaign once again shows its dirty, hypocritical nature. As a one time supporter of the Clintons I cannot tell you how much respect I have now lost for them.

    April 4, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Andrew

    There's a spelling mistake in the article. You use "Columbia" in the first paragraph instead of the correct "Colombia."

    On the substance, free trade is the way to go (especially in the direction of creating free trade zone throughout the americas). It makes sense for the US, and is inevitable. The democratic candidates know it too, but are simply afraid to anger the union base of the party (which is completely wrong on this issue).

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Ralph

    An "error in judgement"? This is either about more political incompetence, or more lies. Feel free to pick one.

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. EAGLE35

    WILL SOMEONE TELL ME WHY THIS BUNCH OF INCOMPETENTS SHOULD RUN THIS COUNTRY? THEY HAVE RUN THE WORST CAMPAIGN IN AMERICAN HISTORY. BILL, HILL, PENN, ALL OF THEM ARE JUST PUNCH LINES NOW. HILLARY, GIVE IT UP FOR YOUR COUNTRY AND CHECK YOURSELF INTO A MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC ALONG WITH BILL AND YOUR STAFF. THIS IS GETTING PATHETIC.

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. kevin lynch

    Hillary is the strongest candidate. The networks have driven Obamas campaign. You guys give hime a series of speasches on race,iraq and the economy!!
    Obama is playing the networks like a fiddle! When it comes out about his connections to Ghadafi are you going to aloow him to prepare speaches and carry them live??????

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. McCain Clinton 08

    Nah, no error, just pretending everyone can have their way!!
    Hilldog!!

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Clintoris

    OBAMA IS THE POLITICAL LAXATIVE AMERICA NEEDS.
    TRUTH
    HONESTY

    HOPE

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Jack Walden

    Of course, this is expected. Washington Lobbysts own her with all the PAC money she has accepted. Her campaign like that of John McCain is run by Washington Lobbysts. No surprise here...

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. sky

    I just really dont trust her anymore

    April 4, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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