(CNN) - Mark Penn has given up his role as chief strategist for the Clinton campaign, it was announced Sunday.
"After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as Chief Strategist of the Clinton Campaign; Mark, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign," Clinton Campaign Manager Maggie Williams said in a statement.
Sources in the Clinton campaign tell CNN's Mike Roselli Penn realized over the weekend that he needed to step aside, and that Clinton was disappointed that he had met with the Colombians.
(CNN) - A key backer of Hillary Clinton's White House bid gave her top strategist Mark Penn a less than ringing endorsement Sunday, following news Penn had met with the Colombian ambassador to promote a free trade agreement the New York senator opposes.
Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell didn't exactly give the longtime Clinton pollster a vote of confidence.
Asked directly if the campaign should cut ties with Penn, Rendell said, "Well there are a lot of issues in which you can raise that question."
"Yeah, I think you've got to make it very clear for someone who is a consultant, who you are representing and who you are not representing and I would hope that Mr. Penn when he talked to the Colombians made that clear," Rendell also said. "And it doesn't sound to me like he did and that's something the campaign should take into question."
Late last week it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that Penn had met with the Colombian ambassador on Monday to promote a free trade agreement that Hillary Clinton has sharply criticized on the campaign trail. Penn's P.R. firm Burson-Marsteller had a contract with Colombia to promote the agreement, though a spokesman for Colombia's president told the paper he didn't know if Penn was representing Clinton or his P.R. firm in the meeting.
On Friday, Penn said he was acting in his role as CEO of Burson-Marsteller and called the meeting a "error in judgment." Upset with that characterization, the Colombian government cut ties with Penn's firm on Saturday.
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton’s campaign says the candidate will stop telling the story of an uninsured pregnant woman who lost the baby and died after being denied medical care, following a hospital raising questions over its accuracy.
Clinton has frequently told the emotional story of the woman from rural Ohio since late February. In the speech, Clinton said the woman made minimum wage working at a local pizza restaurant, without insurance, when she became pregnant. Clinton said the woman ran into trouble and went to a hospital in a nearby county but was denied treatment because she couldn’t afford a $100 payment.
In the speech, Clinton said the woman later was taken to the hospital by ambulance and lost the baby. The young woman was then taken by helicopter to a Columbus hospital where she died of complications.
As recently as Friday night in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Clinton said, “As I was listening to this story being told, I was just aching inside. It is so wrong, in this good, great and rich country, that a young woman and her baby would die because she didn’t have health insurance or a hundred dollars to get examined.”
But an Athens, Ohio hospital is questioning the accuracy of the story. While Clinton never named the hospital in her speech, the woman she was referring to was treated at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens. The hospital said the woman did indeed have insurance, and at least at their hospital was never turned away.
Hospital chief executive officer Rick Castrop in a statement said, “we reviewed the medical and patient accounts of the patient” after she was named in a newspaper story about Clinton’s stump speech. “There is no indication that she was ever denied medical care at any time, for any reason. We clearly reject any perception that we ever denied any care to this woman.”
(CNN) - The economy may be “Issue #1,” and the unresolved Democratic presidential race continues to dominate the headlines, but in anticipation of Tuesday’s congressional testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, much of the Sunday morning talk focused on the Iraq war.
On “Fox News Sunday,” John McCain responded to Barack Obama’s criticism of the presumptive Republican nominee’s comment about maintaining a troop presence in Iraq for 100 years.
“I said, ‘It could be 100 years, but it's a matter of U.S. casualties, and we have presence in countries like South Korea, Japan,’ et cetera, et cetera,” McCain told Chris Wallace. “So it's very clear. And Senator Obama and anyone who reads that knows that I didn't think we were in a 100-year war.”
Later on Fox, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, disputed the Arizona senator.
“On the 100 years war issue, John McCain is being disingenuous, because what he said in that interview was as long as there is no violence - which indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of Iraq itself,” Kerry alleged.
“If he's talking about being there for 40 years, 100 years, he's talking about attracting more and more terrorists and not paying attention to the larger challenges.”
President Bush issued the following statement on the death of Charlton Heston:
"Laura and I are saddened by the death of our friend, Charlton Heston. Charlton Heston was one of the most successful actors in movie history and a strong advocate for liberty.
"Widely acclaimed for his long, award-winning film career, he also had a profound impact off the screen. He served his country during World War II, marched in the civil rights movement, led a labor union, and vigorously defended Americans' Second Amendment rights. He was a man of character and integrity, with a big heart. For all these reasons, in 2003 I was proud to award Charlton Heston the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nations's highest civil honor.
"Our prayers are with his wife Lydia and the entire Heston family during this difficult time."
"Raw Politics" on "Anderson Cooper 360" delivers the latest political news with a wry sense of a humor and without spin.
(CNN) - When I ran marathons, I took heart from the kind souls who lined the route in those torturous last few miles.
In clusters of three or four, they would wave, cheer and hold out orange slices or bits of banana.
Sometimes they had funny signs like, "Which great explorer finishes every marathon? DeSoto." Say it out loud and you'll get it - "the sore toe."
The point is, when you are struggling along with blistered feet, aching legs and lungs that feel like Shredded Wheat, it is awfully nice to have a stranger give you a pat on the back.
I was thinking of that this week as I watched the candidates slog through another day of campaigning. I looked at the calendar and mentally counted the months until November. Well, OK, I counted them on my fingers. Seven months. And all the candidates have been running much longer than that already.