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. AJ, IL

    Rendell has better condemn Mark Penn. Siding with the Clinton campaign and Mark Penn's role in it, could be politically damaging to Rendell. Especially since his democratic gubernatorial candidate was Sen Bob Casey, who is now an Obama supporter.

    April 6, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. VJmem

    Billary can fire Penn he she'd like; however, his firm has ALREADY been paid $5M to run this campaign....oops!

    Maybe he met with the Colombians to let them know that his company would be working on their issue VERY soon since he would be freed up because the campaign was coming to a close......hmmmmmmmm

    April 6, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Mary

    Ask Bill what human rights violator he is in partnership with making millions and then fire Bill too.

    April 6, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Eric

    The latest in the Clinton campaign saga. People can complain that Obama isn't getting enough "negative" coverage but what is he really doing that's so bad? You can only beat the Wright dead horse so many times before the ratings take a dive.

    On the other hand, you have the Clinton campaign handing us this type of thing on a silver platter on a daily basis. You can't make this stuff up folks, it makes for great entertainment.

    April 6, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Richard

    Rendell has always had the reputation of being a loose cannon. But I believe that even he is beginning to question his own choice of backing Clinton, even though he can't say it just that way. I think he made be looking for an out. If Obama upsets Clinton in PA, Rendell's political future may be in jeopardy.

    April 6, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Gnosticman

    It is very worrysome how divided and incompotent Sen. Clinton's campagn insiders are. She needs to take control of her staff if she is going to convince people that she will be a compotent President. Meanwhile, Obama is closing in on the finish line even with the Wright controversy. Not enough people are going to be fooled by soundbites to bring him down!

    April 6, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. La Raza

    I will give Hillary a $100 to drop out!

    April 6, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Bob, Phoenix

    No wonder the Clinton "brain trust" has her campaign in the ditch gasping for air. From presumptive nominee to sure loser in less than 9 months. What a bunch of self-adulating idiots! Oh well, better that we get the evaluate the quality of her team now than after she was elected. Bill, Penn, Carville – crooks or clowns – perhaps both. . .

    April 6, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. ok

    This story seriously has legs. It calls into question the kind of people Hillary will appoint to run our White House if elected president. We have already had 8 years of nightmare from BUSH and Cheney. The last thing we need is another incompetent person who lies every step of the way to drive us into a bigger ditch than we are now.

    I hope the American people can open their eyes and see the true colors of these candidates and vote not based on superficial characteristics but on judgement and strengh of character.

    April 6, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. dave

    the real shame is that HRC opposes the colombia trade pact which can help that nation battle the Red narco-guerillas supported by Cuba and the cuban puppet chavez in venezuela...the trADE pact will help colombia in its battle against Red terror....too bad the lib Dems do not see this factor...so in his day job Mr Penn had it right...come on HRC do you really support the Reds in latin america??

    April 6, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Tre

    How can Hillary trust the posterboy for American Comb-overs?

    April 6, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. eddie

    As a clinton supporter, I agree, I think penn should go.
    What he did to the hillary team is just disgusing.

    April 6, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. mary


    Slick Eddie is a liar just like the Clintons. When will the American people wake up and realize it is time for a change in Washington and the only way is to vote for Obama. HIllary has told more lies then you can count. One other thing they always bring in Florida and Michigan, HELLO, they both signed on to the rules and knew what they were signing, so lets play by the rules. Hillary thinks we are all so dumb that she can say jump and we all do it. Sorry but this is one American that's not that stupid.

    April 6, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. dee rathersome

    I find it very interesting that the political consulting firm, Penn, Schoen and Berland $10.8 million so far by the Clinton campaign. For what?
    Why was he in Colombia on behalf of the Clinton's? Why is Hillary always confused , misspeaking, sleep deprived or just plain lying (hospital story) about what is going on in her campaign. Sounds like she perfectly ready to run for the President of the United States.

    April 6, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Renee

    Hillary's Campaign look like they did the Wink Wink saying one thing and going behind the American backs and doing another Penn met with the Colombian Trade Agreement. Wonder what eles is the Clintons doing behind the Americans backs???

    April 6, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  16. Mike in PA

    To nsamata@gmail.com

    Could it be there just aren't any "circus act" stories about Obama like there is with Clinton? I don't think its so much that they are favoring Obama, its just Clinton's campaign has much more corruption to talk about.

    April 6, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. BOB

    And he also plays Racial Politics in Pennsylvania. Just anything to get Clinton a win. What a corward he is!

    Don't you see Penn with red face? Is it anyway strange that he is connected with the Clintons? Haven't you seen that all major players or supporters of the Clintons have scandals arround them: lies, double talks, misspeaks, prostitutes, backroom deals, arrogance, exagerations, racists talks etc. Today lie, tomorrow apology – Is she the person you want to RULE OVER YOU?

    If the Clintons really love this country and take its interest to heart, this race should have been over by now but they love to EXIT IN DISGRACE.

    April 6, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. Reasonable

    It's amazing how Clinton supporters want to interject Obama when this is infighting within the Clinton campaign. Yeah, you want him to resolve this too. Let's be reasonable.

    April 6, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Dori in AZ

    Top strategist? Does it really matter if Penn was representing Clinton or his P.R. firm in the meeting? People won't separate out the two, and if he's working on behalf on Hillary, he does more damage while promoting something that she adamantly opposes – even if it's for his day job!

    Does anyone in the Clinton campaign know what they are doing? Beginning to look a lot like the Titanic!!!!

    Si se puede! Obama 2008!

    April 6, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. dee rathersome

    Check out the Paul v. Clinton Youtube tape. It's about time America listened to someone who REALLY knows what the Clinton's are capable of. The Billary clan continue to take the american public intelligence granted. It's about time that they listened to someone who knows the whole story.

    April 6, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Lawrence - Virginia Beach, VA

    Penn is an idiot and Hillary is a habitual liar, they work well together. I see that she's been discovered and having mis-spoke (lied) a second time. My goodness if this were Obama, the Clinton campaign would put it on a commercial. With regard to Gov (bigot) Rendell, he belongs with them.

    April 6, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. raven6

    where is the big outrage and investigation by CNN on this issue?

    April 6, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. FrankSmith

    I will continue to say the Rosary, not for Hillary, but all those who vote or even contribute to Hillary's campaign. How many more sins can we tolerate coming from the White House?

    April 6, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    Clinton will feel no obligation to fire Penn, just because he went to lobby for a trade treaty she PRETENDS to oppose, just as she would not repudiate the hispanic woman in Texas who ranted that blacks had not supported hispanics, or admit that Wolfson was one of the primary architects of the punishment of Fla. and Mich. for voting early. She only objects when it is not her people who "misspeak". No wonder there is such a disconnect between her and the trust factor!

    April 6, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Nita

    Remeber what Hillary said in Ohio so subsitute her name and the Penns. It will read in her words I do not think Hillary Clinton should being coming to Penns trying to decieve the voters with her talk on NAFTA, and then in the back room talking with COL. about NAFTA Penn is her chief she is aware of what is going on and she did not have the courage to fire him yet he was fired from the firm. Hillary Clinton is trying to hood wink the voters, and she is so arrogant as to say they she and Bill own the infrastructure of politics in Penns as if we are not bright enough to think for ourselves. Then with the Bosnia story then she goes on tv and make fun of it when we are in a war era with troops that are growing tired and she thinks she can brush aside everything with her arrogance, joking, inserting sexism, or playing the villian. And finally with the Florida and Mic. she agreed to the rules and if we are really informed read up on what she said she knew the votes would could for nothing and now she is politicing for Florida and Mic, if the shoe were on the other foot she would have Obama's head on a platter for even suggesting a do over. I know we do not really want to read the facts because then we will know the truth about Hillarty it hurt me too. I am voting for McCain because I will not be hood winked by the Clintons

    April 6, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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