April 6th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
8 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. nsamata@gmail.com

    Why can I just make comments against Clinton. Can you please post some issues against Obama so that I can post some comments on him too. You are so biased CNN.

    April 6, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Pen is a idiot.
    I think at this point he should resign or work for free for the rest of the states.

    But Obama has had his surogates actually contradict what he has said
    Mr Penn on the other hand is working for Hillay for this campaign but he does have a real day job

    April 6, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. BTW

    Ed Rendell seems like a genuinely decent guy. I've seen him on Meet the Press a few times now, and it's sad to see him triangulate and try to walk the twisted path of the Clintons' talking points. He probably won't be so prominent after the PA primary, but I hope he hasn't lost all credibility by then.

    April 6, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. MarySue22

    Well I guess the Colombian goverment has figured out what many of us have known all along, the Clinton's and their surrogates cannot be trusted. Why didn't Penn just tell the Colombian government that he had a conflict of interest and refer them to another consultaing firm?

    April 6, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. independent

    Rendell's seems aiming at VP spot. Another bad sign for Clinton's infight.

    April 6, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. @americans

    Mark = Lobbyist

    Billary = lie about NAFTA = Solutions for Lobbyist!

    VOTE OBAMA!!!!

    April 6, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Mark - PA

    Ed Rendell is a crook. He is in bed with the Clintons, and appears with them on numerous videos, including the Peter Paul affair – check out the videos on youtube. He has campaigned a few times to be VP on somebody's ticket – it was on KYW here in PA. He is bought and paid for by the Clintons, and is not credible.

    April 6, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. jay

    seriously... who is this Penn character, and why does he still have a job? Or is he really just this arrogant?

    April 6, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Lee

    Rendell is a racist, he said that whites/white men will not vote for a black man in PA ! He was talking in code as to say don't vote for a black man over a 'white woman" although some will not do it anyway, he reinforced the idea, RACIST.

    April 6, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. PA Guy

    Don't let him fool you, Rendell is a crook. He has been one of the worst Governors of Pennsylvania in 50 years.

    April 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Sandy in PA

    "Fast Eddie" just can't resist another opportunity to get is face in the news.

    April 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. Corey, Maryland

    And now the Clinton Machine is starting to break apart... All of the internal parts are falling apart and not able to work together, so it will destroy itself... oh well i can live with that.

    Obama Richardson 08!!!!

    April 6, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Tyler in Raleigh, NC

    Of course Hillary can not fire him, his ability to doublespeak probably got him the job!! He has a nice backdoor into Columbia so she could oppose/support NAFTA at the same time, much like learned while getting "experience" in the White House.

    She complains Obama votes "present" to not anger voters, well she votes "FOR & AGAINST" the Iraq war, NAFTA and every other issue. She is for it in TX but against it in OH. Whatever the people want to hear that day, that is the voice she finds.

    I am tired of every politician acting like this, I guess its time to vote 3rd party again.

    April 6, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. yEs BilLaRy Is A mOnStEr!

    obama 08. we can't deal with this drama!

    April 6, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. NJ

    " Error in judgment " = sorry I was caught !
    The truth about Hillary campaign .

    April 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Johan

    One scandal after the other.. Will it ever stop?

    If Hillary wants to have any credibility left in this campaign, this guy should be exit by tomorrow.

    April 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. joy

    The fact that CLINTON does not see this as a conflict of interest is

    simply a BLARING demonstration of the unbalanced influence in

    which her close relationships to lobbyist affects our laws and policy.




    And this is also why it is important for us to see who donated to the

    library and who paid Bill Clinton the speaking fees so that we can

    determine any other contradictions to her policies and who expects

    benefits for such "donations and fees".

    Finally, I am not a Rendell fan, but I admire his integrity for

    acknowledging this problem.

    April 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Edward


    When there is nothing negative to post, they don't post it.

    The questionable morals and loyalties surrounding the Clintons continues. I'm surprised that Bill's dealing with Kazakhstan were not highlighted by the media further. Those went directly against the US, and Hillary's, foreign policy stance.

    April 6, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. North Carolina

    Agreed, I hope Sen. Clinton fires Penn: lobbyists in prominent positions in anyone's campaign are less than desirable. Nonetheless, Clinton's nonsupport of the Columbian Free Trade bill is credible. She voted against CAFTA in 2005.

    April 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Mary

    I am a strong supporter of Clinton and I agree that Penn should be fired. He has been a major negative for Hillary and her campaign.

    April 6, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  21. D. In PA

    Ed Rendall has been brown noseing for years ! I wouldn't be suprised if he wasn't on her VP list. Nothing will change

    April 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  22. Grif

    Together we Stand, divided we Fall.. You either decide what is best, or you die with the Rest.... Too Many, (I am not Crook), and nobody with Flavour..
    Two Idiot Male's. There is a Female in this Race, Mr. Stop this infighting have more respect. Alternatively, you can join the Idiot of NYC, a month ago..

    April 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  23. Brown

    Didn't Penn cost 5 million for his services?

    April 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Public eye

    Way to tick off the Colombians, Mark. And as for Rendell, he is a strong advocate for "white power." Probably has ties to the Klan in Pennsyvania. The best thing these men can do is withdraw support for Hillary or risk tarnishing her campaign even further.

    April 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. James

    This Clinton's campaign is really too much. They are the one who started the Canadian NAFTA mess, and the Rev. Wright story.

    When will CNN report on this Penn story with fair and balance reporting, and tell the truth about the lairing Clinton's.

    Bill Clinton's a laired, and a man who still stay in touch with Jennifer Flowers.

    She was against helping the people of Bosnia in Clinton’s early years of his president.

    4 years later and 250,000 death she wants to help broke peace, and the sniper story.

    Please CNN, be fair and tell the whole story on the Clinton’s.

    April 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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