April 6th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
4 years ago

Rendell criticizes Penn, hints he should be fired

 Rendell, left, criticized Penn Sunday over his meeting with the Colombian government.
Rendell, left, criticized Penn Sunday over his meeting with the Colombian government.

(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.


Filed under: Ed Rendell • Hillary Clinton • Mark Penn
soundoff (275 Responses)
  1. shelly

    Hillary should follow in his footsteps and resign herself. She is a lier and her campaign is insulting the intelligence of the American people. Americans need to join together and stop the madness. We had 8 years of being Bushed and the Clinton years were no better.
    Bill lied to the American people, Hillary has lied with a straight face and changed her mind so many times that is beyond "mispoken" words. Their is only ONE chance for us and that is OBAMA!

    April 6, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  2. Wolf Blitzer

    She is better off without him.

    April 6, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  3. melikeyhill

    rendall has not handled his duties very well, he should step down too!

    April 6, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  4. State of Pennsylvania

    State of Pennsylvania voters BEWARE! If Hillary lost a vote for every lie she told, the race for the democratic nomination would be over today.

    April 6, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. Daniel, WA

    I think Obama should hire Penn for his campaign.

    April 6, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  6. I GOT OBAMA BACK!!!

    Can you please post my comment Rendell you need to enjoy now, but when it's time for you to run again you are history!!!! Hillary you just have too many problems on every end of the stick. The Clintons have 109 million dollars to spend go take a vacation and stop making America look so bad. How can you even feel our pain if you not suffering? How come you can't tell us the rest of the missing tax information? How come you have to be so negative and play gender and race card? How come they say you so tuff when you just barely won Texas but loss the caucas? How come you don't care about little states? Well Hillary we are all "one nation under GOD" please remember that.

    April 6, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. Joyce in Florida

    Well, I don't see one positive or good comment for Hillary's campaign. People make mistakes and admit it, then they go on. Get over it. Senator Clinton is strong and a fighter and she will prevail. I am sure there are plenty of mistakes being made in the Obama camp, but people choose to forget about or ignore it. I WILL NOT nor will others!!!

    HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 6, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  8. Ronald L. Betts

    Why is it that Obama can threaten Rendell and the news media ignores it? Obama recently had a phone conversation with Rendell indicating he was calling to be sure that he was not going to have any problems in the general election in Pennsylvania. Rendel responded by telling Obama to "not even think five seconds like that". This was clearly a threat by Obama. If I were Rendell I would have told Obama that "Senator, I don't know what the hell you are talking about". If Hillary Clinton would have made a threat like this the news media would have been all over it!

    April 6, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  9. Ron

    Gov. Rendell can you understand the damage that NAFTA did to your state? If Sen. Clinton opposed NAFTA so why did it take 7 1/2 years for her to speak out about it? What reasurance can yougive the public the Sen. Clinton's campaign did not pay for the trip?

    April 6, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. Charlie Richmond

    It would appear that Penn is a big problem, Clinton's employees and advisers all seem to be suffering from stupidity. Ed Rendell reminds me of a used car salesman, Hillary's tale of woe about the uninsured women was BS along with most of her campaign. We do not need another term by the team from Whitewater, Monica, and Jennifer again.

    April 6, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. Not for clinton anymore

    Next Up: WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, earned about $200,000 on the board of a Long Island subprime lender that charged prepayment penalties – a practice that Clinton, a critic of the subprime industry, now seeks to eliminate. Williams, who took over the reins of Clinton's campaign in early February, served as a director on the board of the Woodbury-based Delta Financial Corp. from April 2000 until the firm declared bankruptcy in December, according to Securities and Exchange Commission records.

    April 6, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  12. Surafel Melaku

    We have seen more drama on Clinton side than any other candidates. Its absurd. Her campaign is so what mysteries and corrupt. I don’t now why people still vote for her. Barack and John should step up their feet up.

    April 6, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. PA resident

    I bet Rendell's kicking himself for backing them now. It just reaffirms all of us PA residents' beliefs. Rendell is an idiot. Always has been, always will be.

    April 6, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. white woman for Obama

    i think ed rendell is very racist. he said white men will not vote for Obama. how did this racist man became a governor for the great state of PA. white men please prove him wrong and vote for Obama.

    April 6, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  15. Timmy Coffee

    Rendell, as with everyone who has attempted to triangulate for the Clintons has lost any legacy or respect. That a Democrat governor can imply that the white, undereducated and impoverished voters in his state will not support an African-American is astonishing. Concerning the Penn dismissal, the other show will drop. We can only guess what HRC shenanigan this is intended to cover up. We have had sixteen years of fatuous self-centered nonsense from George W and Billy Jeff. Our baby boomer presidents have been abysmal failures. We don’t need anymore Monica, Bosnian sniper fire, preemptory wars. Hillary is allowing McCain, an irrational warmonger to redefine himself while she and her husband stand attempting to bar the door to transformational change in this country. Clinton needs to get of the presidential primary. This despicable chameleon needs to crawl back under her self-righteous rock.

    April 6, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. Kim

    Rendell is an idiot! His most compelling argument this morning was the "electoral vote" lead that Hillary has. Seriously, will they ever stop changing the goal posts in this race? Maybe they were never taught to follow ACTUAL rules when they were young!

    Come on PA and NC...help us end this!!!!

    April 6, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. vicki

    Rendell just seems like such a down to earth guy. I really enjoy watching him on the news programs. I can understand what he is talking about. Yes, Penn had to go after what he did. It is so hard to figure out why these things happen. Why does someone jeaporidze their position like this? I know he needs to make a living when he is not working the elections, but seems self-destructive on his part.
    I think Hillary needs to keep him close, but he pulled a knit wit move.

    April 6, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  18. Steve

    The Clinton campaign has run aground. And the captain doesn't know what to do. The phone is ringing. It's mid day. She doesn't pick it up. Her first mate, who steered the ship into the shore, quits, but says he's stay around to help. And the captain? She stands there, gape mouthed, unable to make a decision or a statement that rings true..... It's over....

    April 6, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. Ito

    If the Colombian government can dump Penn, it means he's really no good. And that has being Hillary's "top" advisor all along?

    Hillary would be "criticizing" NAFTA and her "top" strategist would be secretly meeting and promoting NAFTA with the Colombians! Fooling the American people!
    George Bush's way is ten times better than this.

    The bottomline is, Penn is still around "advising the Clintons on how to fool Americans. Always the dirty politics.

    April 6, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. MB

    He is a liar- he already knew that Mark Penn was stepping down/ fired as of last night. He wanted to look like the guy with some kind of decency by suggesting Mark Penn be fired. He already knew this was going to happen.

    April 6, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. Phil

    Colombia is a third world country that is known for cocain. And they dumped Mark Penn – Hillary's top advisor?
    What ties do the Clintons really have with the Colombian government? Hmmmm!!!

    April 6, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  22. Geri

    Is Obama free from anything negative??? We only see his pictures, videos, and praise on CNN. Give the Clintons a break from the nastiness of the Obama supporters and get some of his negatives on so they can be blogged on. Not everyone finds him perfect and we all know he has faults. Lets get them out in the open for a change.

    April 6, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  23. Patty P.

    Gosh, it's so hard to fault Penn for not thinking much about conflicts-of-interest when he's working for the candidate without a conscience. Birds of a feather.

    April 6, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  24. Shannon McMurphy

    Was Penn paid by the Obama camp? Wouldn't surprise me.

    April 6, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  25. Jen

    You all are so jealous of the Clintons. They are great public servants and we need to respect what they have done and will continue to do for us. We need to be proud of them. VOTE FOR HILLARY

    April 6, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
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