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. Monroe

    The Clinton campaign is trying to answer this by saying the Mark Penn doesn't represent Hillary's viewpoints on this issue. But whether or not that's the case, they cannot escape the broader issue that, despite what Hillary may personally believe, she has made herself BEHOLDEN TO THE SPECIAL INTERESTS. When a lobbyist like this is your top campaign manager, you are in bed with them, whether you agree with them or not, and it will come back to haunt you! That is why Obama is careful not to develop ties, debts, or obligations to such people!

    April 6, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. TruthBeTold

    Hillary is breeding Lobyists and PR people that have hidden agenda's. One less is better– but its going to be hard to get rid of Lobbyists influance on Hillary campaign.

    April 6, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  3. Tex

    Rendell, what did you expect? Hillary is demonstrating her lack of character and her decison-making inabilities.

    April 6, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. len -texas

    I.m trying to figure out how Hillary could be all over Obama for an advisor talking with the Canadians but, allowing a major figure in her campaign get away with this one. Oh I see just like her campaign actually being the campaigin that talk with the Canadians about her plans on Nafta. CNN, FOX and MSNBC lets see how long you all run this one... I think it goes back to the question of credibility.... To many games are being played with the American people on behalf of the Clintons. They continuously move the bar to suit them, not the American people... Going on Leno does not excuse bad behavior.

    April 6, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. SlapStick, FL

    Fighting within the Clinton Camp is not good for anyone because what this shows is that Americans will be the downfall of themselves. Money and Greed!!!

    April 6, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Joe White

    It's like the Scooter Libby scandal. Just "one bad apple" in the bunch is all.

    I'm sure if they fire this guy, the rest of the campaign will smell like roses.


    April 6, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Val

    TRUE!!! Rendell has lost his popularity here in PA. He has his nose up the Clintons' butts to get a spot in the white house and he painted his state as racist. SO stupid and ignorant. I used to really like him.....and i used to really like Mayor Nutter. Those days are DONE!
    I'm sorry i voted for either one of them.
    They BOTH owe a lot of favors and want a lot of favors in return.

    OBAMA '08

    April 6, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Joe White

    Columbia is a University. Colombia is a Country.

    April 6, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Bob, Florida - RFO

    Double Talking Penn was hired to do just what he did. He has his money and needs no more.

    HRC will keep him as their fall guy.

    Go Barack '08

    April 6, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Marl Penn should stay, it shows what the Clinton Campaign is all about. Please do not fire him Hillary keep him on-board he has helped you campaign so much.

    April 6, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. John in NC

    Penn has cost Hillary votes all over the place with bad strategy and stupid stuff like this. Look at the people Hillary has surrounded herself with in this campaign and ask yourself if she is a competent executive. Given what we have seen from her disasterous campaign I would say no.

    My state of NC will shut the door on the Clinton / Penn campaign once and for all.

    April 6, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. Independent in Florida

    Yes, Mark Penn has a day job. He starts to work for Hillary at 3:00 am. Seriously, I just looked up the Busron-Marsteller Company. Interesting. Seems like a group of powerful lobbiest to me. But, again, I may be wrong.

    April 6, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. theroadrunner

    Perhaps Gov. Rendell will realize his mistake in lending his hard-earned credibility to a candidate who is known to speak out of both sides of her mouth. Once he and others who have been slow to connect the dots with Clintons playing loose with the truth, realize that they are being used, hopefully it won't be too late to switch their endorsement to a candidate who will make good on his word. Go, Obama!

    April 6, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Fed Up In Pa

    The web of lies n deception comes out! Fire Penn? Why should he be fired- he is basically talking out both ends which is what the Clintons have been doing allll along just that some people are too blind to see it! The Clintons really should consider dropping out of the race. Like ex president Carter, my family is pro Obama too and I am also pro Obama. Its good to see someone who has been there making such a wise decision.

    April 6, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Greg Turner

    I live in PA. I used to like Rendell when he was the mayor but he seems like he is on the Clinton Payroll. He courted the "urban" vote by befriending the demographic, but then says that the state won't vote for a black man..What an insult. He's the democratic Karl Rove, ignore him

    April 6, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. karen charlottesville, va

    Penn should resign. Glad the Columbian's fired him,as they should. He didn't have the smarts to recuse himself from the conversation, or perhaps he shares the unbelievablly arrogant hubris of manyy of the "advisors" with whom Clinon has chosen to surround herself.

    April 6, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. phil Geffen

    i would say hillary's campaign is collapsing in so many ways. First all these lies... and even some poor fact checking (the recent hospital story) – and now her own guy is out talking about free trade – and she says she is against. maybe she isnt?

    her campaign tried and tries so hard to make this about Rev. Wright – but her own house is a mess.

    It is also interesting how she makes fun of Obama' speaches – and yet President Clinton earned 50 Million from.. his speeches.

    Hillary should consider backing away from the election for the good of the party. The lies and fractures are hurting her – and the party aswell.

    April 6, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Suzie Applebee

    It's TIME to wake up America! Hill and Bill and Mark don't misspeak or misjudge... they staight up LIE! It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out, nor does it take one to realize they are only sorry when they get caught. (eg. Sniper Fire, Monica, NAFTA, the hospital story, number of delegates and states don't 'really' count?, vote for the Iraq war, should I go on?)

    OBAMA '08

    April 6, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Reggie

    Double talk seems to be taught in Politics 101 and has infested every one of them to some degree. Some like Hillary and Bill Clinton are Jordanesque at it. Others like John McCain and other stumbling bumbling bumblers are horrible at it. Either way they all do it and it's sickening to the point where some actually believe the lies and double talk they speak.

    I can't think of a politician out there who hasn't done it at some point. It's all part of the game and for those who are new to the game (like Obama) they will eventually get swept up in it too.

    April 6, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. sasha kando

    The double-speak of the Clintons, Rendell, Penn – all chickens and roosters coming home to roost!! Let's see what kind of eggs they will now lay. Look at states that are slowly dying – look at their governors. PA and MI are examples; both governors strong supporters of Clinton, came out early, and in MI screwed it all up by calling for early "support". Both states in dire circumstances; both governores should "retire" instead of hoping for significant post in Hillary's cabinet. See how closely their support is linked to Hillary's ambition to be president. What about these states? Loss of jobs, foreclosures,high school graduation – all made the worst on lists. If your governor is more interested in their own personal ambition, how can you expect them to help you? Will voters in these states see the truth? OH, you all have supported the "boat" that will only sail further into the stormy seas.

    April 6, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. Joseph in PA

    Gov. Rendell was a good mayor of Philadelphia, bringing in economic growth and cutting crime. He has been an OK governor, too, in a state with a wide variety of political thought and leanings. PA is a hard state to govern. He is a great politician, though, with aspirations, I think.

    But, I think he is backing the wrong candidate. But, Obama does not have the same political game plan as the Clinton's with regard to political machine and "loyalty" rewards. Obama is a different type of politician. That is what so many of us like about him.

    I think his backing of Hilary will hurt him politically in the state. I also think the current problems the Clinton campaign is having is showing some of the duplicity of the politics as usual that so many of us are tired of seeing.

    Obama is closing fast in the polls and I think he will take PA at which point, Hillary really should consider bowing out, or at least stop actively campaigning and let the primary wind down.

    April 6, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. Aspercreme for obama

    let him go. he should know better than to accept the job. Principal number one ..in any job, really... NO CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

    Truth be tell all three candidates play to "politics" the same old way. obama is no better than the other two. his only advantage is the media's bias that has allowed him to get so far. Now they are afraid of saying anything. obama had the opportunity to prove that his words match his actions and he has failed horribly. he is under the presumption that once he gets to the presidency everything is going to pink colored. ah?!

    Clinton or McCain 08 & 12

    April 6, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. George

    I am sick of hearing the Obama supporters crying about NAFTA. Our largest source of oil imports is Canada, even more than we get from Saudi. Under NAFTA we get priority access to Canadian oil and Canada has already said if NAFTA is scrapped or even renegotiated we lose that preferential access so that the Canadians can negotiate an oil deal with China. So just where does Obama and his supporters think we are going to get 2 million barrels of oil a day once we lose the Canadian oil? And just what do you think that will do to the price of gas here and our economy? Instead of whining about NAFTA why don't you do some research and see what it actually contains and not just keep repeating what the Obama campaign tells you to say like a bunch of mindless sheeps bleeting.

    April 6, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Jeff in CA


    He has been the problem with Hillary's campaign from the beginning and only makes it worse..


    April 6, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. Marc

    If he was smart, Rendell would change his vote and endorse Obama. Too many lies and too many back-door deals. Hillary said that she went to listen to MLK in Chicago. We really need to find out if this is true.

    April 6, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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