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. Ross in MD

    Rendell is a crooked politician – just like Spitzer, Bob Menendez, Feinstein, and other Clinton supporters.

    April 6, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Yes fire penn, he is a disgrace and bad news for the Clinton camp. Lobbists have no place in any compaign!!! IS THIS GUY THE KARL ROVE OF THE CLINTON CAMP??? You know what I mean...

    April 6, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Black Republican, New York, New York

    I have been seeing this Rendell guy so many times on cable network that I wonder if he is running for vice president?

    Desperate for Hillary to beat Obama, the guy shamelessly sought with New Jersey's governor to help raise money to pay for the do-over votes in Florida and Michigan. How could this not be seen as helping Hillary to BUY VOTES?

    I know Hillary loaned her campaign 5 million dollars (to be repaid when?), and that is aceptable. But I have never heard of a candidate or her supporters raising money to pay for an election that the candidate's party already declared void because the rules were broken.

    I'm backing McCain, but I hope Obama beats Hillary so she can return to New York and truly serve New Yorkers whom she really sought to use en route back to the White House. User-Loser Hillary!

    April 6, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. Nakae

    Clinton's blind loyalty to Mark Penn reminds me of Bush's blind loyalty to Donald Rumsfield.

    The infighting among the Clinton campaign all over the news and across newspapers shows what kind of 'leader' she is.

    April 6, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. amanda

    in all this, am yet to hear from the senaor herself? what has she got to say about the`wink wink of her campaign? you should have seen her beat obama in the head over the same circumstances.. penn knew hillary was not truthful about her role in nafta hence his meeting.

    April 6, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. jd

    More Problems for Billary. Money is low. Embellishment of stories. They do anything to be elected. NO DIGNITY! OBAMA/08 period.

    April 6, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Marc

    Please remember, Rendell almost went to jail in the 80's. That is why the Clintons wanted him to back them up. Crooks do get along.

    April 6, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. chas0x01

    Hillary is being exposed more and more everyday. And her supporters simply follow her lead and character – lie and then lie some more.

    April 6, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. Former Hillary Supporter

    Yes BTW I had thought Gov. Ed Rendell seems like a genuinely decent guy. Unfortunately he has been manipulated to trust HRC, and the sooner he and many respectable persons realized the truth and change their positions and support Obama, else it will cost them their credibility!
    It is a shame to see what is going and people are still supporting HRC sheepishly!

    April 6, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. Charles

    I've said it a lot so far but I'll say it one more time. There aren't a lot of things for the press to print against Obama! He's not sticking his foot in his mouth at every turn. When something does happen (Rev. Wright) it's plastered all over the news. When the Canadian thing (which turned out to not even be Obama in the first place) came up, it was played all over and probably cost Obama a lot of votes. The reason the press is all over Hillary is because something new comes out against her every week. Clinton supporters, stop blaming the media. Your candidate is brining the majority of this on herself.

    April 6, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Bill - North Carolina

    Wake up Ed... this is what you get with the Clintons. Obviously Hillary's "vetting" hasn't been thorough enough.

    So, in a matter of two weeks we have a "make believe" dash under sniper fire; Mark Penn dealing with Columbia; and one of those tear jerking hospital stories she tells has been dropped because it is not true. It is time to pull the plug on this camapign. It is making a mockery of the Democratic party.

    April 6, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. vee

    Rendell – probably he is just at the wrong side.

    I am so confused about this guy. He seems good but he talks nonsense.

    I think his political career is doomed after this race.

    April 6, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. barry

    Ed is correct. Penn must go...

    April 6, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. maya

    I don't care for Penn.

    Doesn't change the fact that Hillary would be an excellent president.

    April 6, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Susan / PA


    CNN cant post what Obama doesnt do. When you run a campaign in a new direction of the old time politics, you just dont make the negitive news very much.
    Hillary will stop at nothing to win..that is just sad. I actually feel pity for her, she seems to feel the need to lie, distort, and do behind the scenes NATFA trade deals, Mich & Fl, etc, instead of just being herself and letting the chips fall where they may. Noone will believe she was NOT aware of Mark Penns firm being hired to negotiate this Columbian Trade Deal, nor that he was going there to meet with Columbian higherups. She knew. Mark got caught, and now Hillary has to pay the piper. If all you are looking for is to make negitive comments, well then Hillary has supplied you with a selection of opportunities. Induldge yourself!

    Vote Obama on April 22nd

    April 6, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Ephy

    It's crystal clear Penn represented Hillary in the Colombian summit. All boils down to Hillary's double talking.

    April 6, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. LT, Tacoma WA

    Soon Clinton will be so low in the delegate count and the polls that she won't even be able to scratch and bite Obama's ankles anymore.

    April 6, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Tom

    Accountability in the Clinton campaign? That would be a dramatic change. Why doesn't Penn just say he misspoke? It seems to be working for Hillary.

    April 6, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. leon


    April 6, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. disappointed

    Clintons 109 million, Clinton consultants dealing with the Colombian government, largest cocain dealing country, Clinton big profits since 2000, lets add all this together, hmmmmmmmmmm maybe our drug sniffing dogs should sniff Clinton money. Is our NY Senator tied up in another scandle to come, DRUG MONEY PROFITS and CLINTON CORRUPTION

    April 6, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Lisa Ray

    A kind and sincere request to all Americans ... Please help in stopping Hillary from being the president. America has thousands of women who are capable for becoming president. We can't afford to have another president who is greedy , liar and has all the negative qualities in the world. Please we need good leadership for America..Please stop Hillary..

    April 6, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. EA

    The meere fact Rendell had to mention that Whites wouldn't vote for Obama is shameful. It may be the truth, but this is yet another attempt to inject race by the Clinton campiagn into this election. It's unreal. My how the mighty have fallen to gain the almighty power of the White House. Shameful. I'm so glad that most of America's eyes are open to what's going on here. The Clintons were to be crowned on Super Tuesday. The arrogance of the campaign did not budget well and di not expect that Obama would run such a well organized campaign. Desperation now breeds manure. I hope they get what they reap in the end.

    April 6, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. Deejay

    I'm sure Ohio blue collar workers have everything to regret now having been decieved to believe "Hi-lie-ry" Clinton has their interest at heart. Wanna make us believe her campaign strategist is working tirelessly to promote a cause that will take food off his family table? Please give us a break! American's, I still wanna believe we aint that stupid and I think this is our chance to either vote for "the same" or a change. I hope 2 years down the line we all will not have cause to blame our mistakes in voting Hillary on poor judgement which is a phrase that seem to have characterized her campaign and the people around her.
    Notable Quote: "We are what we repeatedly do, Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit"

    April 6, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Michael Guinn- Ventura, CA

    The Governor (for once) makes a good point. What Penn did was so hypocritical....especially after the Canada/NAFTA thing that turned out to be a CLINTON supporter- not an Obama supporter.
    Hillary has lost so much of the respect many of us had for her.
    Her campaign has been run with total disregard for the truth in MANY instances. Her surrogates have hurt her much more than helped her.
    Penn needs to go. But then, so does Hillary.

    April 6, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. maritza

    At this juncture I am sitting here wondering how much longer the Am-
    erican electorate needs in order to realize that the female democratic
    candidate running for the office of "Commander in Chief" is virulently
    mendacious and wholly without merit of any sort. What, I ask on a daily basis, will it take to effectively shut down the Clinton campaign
    once and for all time? What , I wonder, has to transpire in order for
    Bill and Hillary to be sent home to Chappaqua in order to enjoy for-ever in private a lifestyle that $109,000,000 will buy?

    April 6, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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