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. LifeLongDemocrat

    For what he is being paid by the campaign he should be working for Hillary exclusively. He says he was there representing his company and I will give him that, but he probably needs to be fired.

    This reflects on the campaign even though he was there on his own behalf and not hers. Of course the Obama supporters will always blame Hillary.

    Hey, we had a snowstorm this week...Hillary MUST have done that!

    April 4, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Frank in Missouri

    Mark Penn may say he was 'mismeeting' ... that's like Clinton's 'misspeaking' and 'misremembering of fictional war stories'. That's politics for 'being caught in a lie" or "with the hand in the cookie jar" in Mark Penn's 'heavy' case.

    How stupid can we possibly be to support the Clintons any further?

    April 4, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. yael

    This is not the same as the Obama mistruth. Reporting it in this manner on attempts to draw parallels where there are none. The most tiring thing about this campaign is the media.

    April 4, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Joseph IRAQ WAR VET/ COMBAT MEDIC 2ND MARINE DIVISION 2ND MP BATTALLION CAMP LEJUENE

    Well since the CLINTON NEWS NETWORK likes to sensor my comments about Hillary being just like George Bush , Let me see if they will sensor me knowing Im an Iraq War vet.
    Let me say it again we are sick of the lies from her (sniper in Bosnia), and the lobbyists that she surrounds herself with.
    OBAMA 08 Yeah he is my JFK AND MLK reincarnated.

    April 4, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Creative Woody

    "KW April 4th, 2008 1:37 pm ET"

    I prefer to hold my leaders to a higher standard. Your "it's okay if Hillary lies, panders, misrepresents or otherwise misleads- we all do it" excuse is pathetic.

    April 4, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. prakash chand

    You are fogiven Mr penn ,LETS MOVE ON AND BEAT oBAMA.

    April 4, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. teddy orlando

    dude if i was an oohioan or what ever you call em i would be PISSED!!!!. spin your way out of this one Hillary. do i hears taps playing for your campaign???

    April 4, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Jane PA

    You are sorry because you GOT CAUGHT. Hillary knows about it she is a laier. Hillary we don't need you in white house because there is no truth in your mouth.

    April 4, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Jay K IL

    If Obama's campaign manager had been in Mark Penn's place in the same situation – what would Hillary's advisors SAY about it? What would her financial supporters SAY? What would her voters SAY? What is acceptable for one candidate is not necessarily acceptable for the other.

    April 4, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Robert from MN

    "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."

    April 4, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Wendy

    What an idio!!!

    April 4, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Bosnian Sniper

    Completely apart from the partisan-candidate-bickering that dominates here, If Penn is being honest that he was there on business unrelated to the HRC campaign, I have to say that I am just surprised that he has the time to do anything other than that campaign right now...he is not just the head of the consulting firm, but supposedly the chief strategist for her campaign.

    More generally, I am an Obama supporter, but if I were an HRC supporter I would be pretty annoyed at Penn and not just because of this latest boneheaded move. I don't think he has done her much of a service at all. She is a stronger candidate than her campaign has let on and she and her advisors did not realize and rectify it until it was too late.

    Penn's latest blunder is just one more example. Regardless of what happens, I hope the guy has a tough time getting any political candidates to hire him in the future after the mangling they've done of HRC's nomination bid.

    I would respectfully suggest that her reliance on him and on a poor "win by Feb 5" campaign strategy also reflect negatively on her judgement and management, but now I know the HRC-supporter-lasers will be coming my way...

    April 4, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Tally

    I think that Hillary is only saying that she opposes this trade deal publicly because it's POLITICALLY correct. If it walks like a duck, quack like a duck, it is a duck.

    April 4, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. Please don't keep me waiting in moderation.

    When this was Obama who was screaming foul in Ohio? Hillary is such a hypocrite!

    April 4, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Sara from Arizona

    WHAT SANE PERSON WOULD VOTE FOR THE DECIETFUL CLINTON??????

    April 4, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. Marie in California

    Okay, Hillary......time to get rid of Mark Penn. Obviously, he's not on your team. He should have known better. Kick him to the curb.

    No Obamination in he Presidency!

    Hillary or McCain – 2008

    April 4, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. Hippies Unite

    I have to laugh at all of the Obama-Bots and HIllary-Loons who go back and forth accusing the other of being a hypocrite. Anyone with half a brain knows that Obama's and Hillary's views are set to the audience they are speaking to. That's why they bash NAFTA in Ohio yet don't say a peep about it in Texas.

    Why does Texas add hundreds of thousands of jobs while Ohio crumbles??? One word hippies...UNIONS!

    Those of you who continue to support tweedle-dumb and tweedle-dumber need to wake up and realize that these two are pandering for votes by promising you lemmings a nanny to take care of you and help you overcome YOUR stupid decisions.

    Get ready for hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes and dozens of new fat government programs. Enjoy your smaller paycheck hippies.

    April 4, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. doc

    Doc April 4th, 2008 1:41 pm ET

    "substitute my name for Senator Obama"…..let's just do that.

    . "NO" lets don't, All Hillary's supporters ask for is fair treatment, but CNN has crowned obama "KING"

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Democrats Are What's Left

    So I'm taking Hillary's advice:

    "I don't think people should come to PENNSYLVANIA and tell the people of PENNSYLVANIA 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."

    In the voice of Jack Cafferty:

    So my question is: Why should voters trust you, Mrs. Clinton?

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. April in Texas

    Flip Flop Flip Flop..... Woot I can do that too.. Hillary was for NAFTA during her husbands presidency as the transcripts showed and proved but STOP THE PRESS shes now against NAFTA due to convience and its what she thinks the american people want to hear and then a top advisor goes to advocate NAFTA and now its an error. All the while it was the Clinton camp that requested the meeting in Canada which the Canadian gov tried to straighten out when it was Obama that was blamed. Clinton will say or do anything to get elected... Clinton miss speaking miss hearling miss understood and now miss judgement.. This isnt MISS america contest Hillary so please stop with the Miss steps and miss takes..

    Obama 08

    Probably wont get posted but trying again...

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Paulinus, Canada

    What goes around comes around. The Wink Wink is back to haunt Hillary

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Michael, Texas

    LOL

    Time is the best thing that we as Americans have to see the truth about HRC.

    She can't be trusted. She doesn't know how to pay her bills, run a campaign, or what her Chief strategist is doing behind her back.

    And you HRC supporters like she will be able to run the USA????

    Come on she is just another G.W. BUSH!!!

    Awake up and let’s take back the white house.

    She will be able to get away with it, she will just cry, or say she had no part of it, and then goes on SNL and joke about it, and the media will let her get away with it again like the sniper fire.

    I so wish us as America could get back to how we were. Were your word was your bond.

    Guess that will never happen. I feel bad that my kids are growing up in all this that we can even trust our Govt.

    Come on America lets take back what is ours. Let's make America great again, and hold our Govt. to what they say.

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. mary

    You think?

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Jay

    After hillary's lie about Bosnia, how can anyone believe that she has nothing to do with the meeting that her strategist made with Columbia. If her campaign workers do these sort of things behind her back, how is she going to legitimately control her administration if she pulls a curious george and steals the Presidency? I wouldn't doubt if hillary was behind it, after all, her first lady papers discuss how she was pro NAFTA and made the closing arguments FOR NAFTA, saying that it would benefit our economy. Now look at the repercussions that NAFTA has caused. I don't like george w, and never have, but our depressing economy is not all of his fault. It took this long for the negative repercussions of NAFTA to show itself.

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. tim

    This is serious! She gets away with being critical of Obama when he got caught up with Canada, but when one of her most trusted people talks directly with a country, there is no recoil!

    Shame on you, Clinton..... shame on you!

    April 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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