April 7th, 2008
04:03 PM ET
10 years ago

Gergen: Could Penn's resignation give Clinton a boost?

The latest Clinton departure could change the tone of the race.

The latest Clinton departure could change the tone of the race.

If Mark Penn had been a favorite within the Clinton campaign, it is difficult to believe that he would have been forced out over the Colombian affair. Sure, it was a dumb mistake – a “what was he thinking” moment. Still, it was a far cry from what one of Barack Obama’s top advisers did when he met with Canadian officials on NAFTA and his mistake properly set off a mini-firestorm. So, in the ordinary course of things, Mark Penn’s apology and a few days of reassuring labor unions would have been enough to quiet things down – and Penn would still be calling the shots.

But it is apparent that Clinton topsiders detest Mark Penn and hold him uniquely responsible for what has gone wrong in the campaign. When he went down last week, they lunged for the jugular and he couldn’t survive.

What difference will it make in the campaign, if any?

Full story

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Dawn


    I so often agree with you, but you can't actually mean that you think it is no big deal that Hillary's top strategist is being paid by the Colombian government?

    April 7, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. Jim

    Nothing could give this cow a boost, except maybe a bulldozer. Only in America.....................a common criminal running for President.

    April 7, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. Rosie

    Gergen- you need to know the facts before you speak!!
    Obama's aid did not do what the report originally said and
    the Clinton people said in Ohio. It was another political mis-speak by Clinton and her campaign.
    It was both an Obama aid and Clinton aid that met with
    Canadian officials, Both said nothing was said about
    'we are just saying against NAFTA for the election'.
    The Canadian officials later confirmed that both the representatives
    of Obama and Clinton said nothing about what was reported by the Canadian (FOX type) network. It was all fabricated!!!!

    April 7, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Tikifire

    Jeez louise... more spin from CNN!!!

    April 7, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. Dan (TX)

    Hard to say – if Hillary herself is responsible for all of the exaggerations and "misspeaks", then no.
    She seems to be doing a pretty good job at single-handedly imploding her own campaign (no others necessary). 🙂
    Not being able to pick a trustworthy inner staff or run a fiscally responsible campaign is a direct reflection on her scatter-brained lack of leadership and clouded sense of reality!
    What say you Clinton supporters? Anything other than just "Go Hillary"? Go ahead, type a real comment! 🙂

    April 7, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Mk

    Did somebody say "resigned"???????

    "Mr. Penn took part on the campaign's morning message call this morning, as usual. This afternoon, he is also scheduled to be on a call with Clinton and other aides to begin to prepare for Saturday's presidential debate in Philadelphia. Mr. Penn 'is still going to be very much involved,' a senior campaign official said."

    April 7, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Money, Power, ego, win at any cost. Lie to American People.
    That is total disrespect of the American People. Americans
    are the most forgiving and good people in the world and we
    will never be able to survive another liar, deceiver, in the White
    House. The Clintons belong with Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rice,
    Rumsfeld,McCain, and the rest of the Country's "takers".Let
    us ad Hannity and Limbaugh to the list of master deceivers.
    They haverobbed our Country of everything we hold dear.and
    we are to listen to them. Most of the above should go on trial
    for the largest and worst deceptive policies in History.

    Obama 2008

    April 7, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Eric

    Oh man David...what are you thinking now days.

    You try and tone down Hillary's support (long time support) of NAFTA, then forget to mention that SHE is the one that was playing games with Canada, now you try and say it's nothing like what Obama's people did?!
    Are you kidding me! You have been an obvious shill for Hillary for some time.

    Look, I know the Clinton's used to be your boss, but get over it and be an actual reporter, like you claim to be.

    April 7, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. Roxanne

    Cnn, you are deliberately leaving out pro hillary posts? What is going on here?

    April 7, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  10. Pat

    Not to place to fine a point on it....but her goose is cooked!!!!

    April 7, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. honkey white guy from cali

    one thing I am happy about My candidate has stood back and took the high road and not directly attacked the Clinton's on any of these many scandals they are swimming in reminds me when her husband was in office he was good for nothing and so is she!!! lies lies lies they donated all that money wow looks good on the surface except that when you look underneath you find out it was to there own charity and the charity they run made alot of donations to, well what do you know the very people that are supporting her now. Obama gets his money and support from the people !!!! not from thieves in Washington the lobbyist, the ones selling this country away one piece at a time! we already have one failed trade deal and now her chief campaign stagiest is talking with a piece of legislation that GW bush is supporting that should be reason enough for most educated people to run. He can not even speak English with any kind of proficiency.

    Go Obama 08

    April 7, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Texas4Obama

    Penn hasn't left the Clinton camp – all he did announce his resignation and give up his title. He is still there working for Hillary and intends to keep on working for the Clintons – what a sham! The news media should be reporting that this is just another Clinton LIE !

    April 7, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  13. Tony

    Like planning before a battle, and this election seems to have the attributes of one hell of a fight, you must lighten the load on the way to the battlefield. That guy should have been sent packin long ago. We are still with you Hillary. Give Em Hell Kid!

    April 7, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. dd

    It is absurd to accept Mark Penn's response that his meeting with the Colombian government was some error in judgement. The contract between the Colombian government and Penn's PR firm is over a year old and the firm had already received $300,000 in payment. His remark tries to mislead the American public that his involvement in this affair was a one time event.

    How long will the US stand for the duping by the Clinton's???

    April 7, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. Tim

    Hillary is like a teenager that gets told by their parents "you need to make different friends". She is shrewed and she cherry picks people who think the way she does. I'm sure she is surrounded by "yes" people, all old friends that has her back. Even if she fired them they would still be running the show behind the scenes. I'm sure there is nothing she doesn't know about them or about what they are doing.
    Unfortunately we will still have to hear her two-cents worth.

    April 7, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Michelle

    Im sure the President of Iran would play nice if he knew Hillary had a harder time getting ready in the morning.

    April 7, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. Angela D

    And once again the media rushes in to "save" and "protect" misunderstood Hillary? I'm surprised at you David (not really). This is the kind of journalistic "integrity" I've come to expect from the majority when it comes to nit-picking everything Obamas says and does (on Hillary's outraged command, while she manipulates, panders and openly lies and there is always always some explainable reason for it per her, her campaign and of course people like you Mr. Gergen.

    When you get all that factual proof about Obama and his advisor and the Canadian Governent let me know. As far as Mr. Pen WE KNOW HE ACTIVELY SOUGHT TO MAKE A TRADE DEAL AGREEMENT WITH THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT. To even suggest that Hillary the experienced and of sound judgement is oblivious to what Mr. Penn was and likely still is doing insults my intelligence.

    April 7, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. miss belief

    Why doesn't the media talk about the Paul v Clinton fraud lawsuit? Add that to the list of questionable relationships.

    April 7, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  19. Sophia

    Penn's PR firm provides the polling data, etc. necessary to make decisions. At this stage, it would be difficult to get another firm up to speed with the campaign so she has done the right thing. It amazes me how little some of these bloggers know.....The polling & demographics data is critical to the campaign!

    April 7, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. Lizabeth

    Folks, this all boils down to electoral college votes come the November general election. If you don't understand how the electoral college votes work, then if Obama is the Democratic nominee, you also won't understand come November why the Democrats lost the White House.
    You've GOT to carry the states with the most electoral votes in November - the states with the biggest populations.– states like New York, Texas, Florida, & California.

    April 7, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. Impartial Jury

    In essence all he did was have the maintenance guy at Clinton HQ just scrape Chief Strategist off his office door and sent out a resignation letter to the media who needed to be the first to run the story.

    So let me try this at work tomorrow:
    Resign my position and ask to get paid after my work is complete while doing the same job as before but without the title.

    Result: Unemployment line.

    April 7, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Tired of Her

    Penn is still with her campaign. He is very actively engaged in it.

    Canada came out and defended Obama with the NAFTA story. They said his campaing made no representations to them whatsoever on NAFTA.

    The Canadian government stated HILLARY'S representatives DID CONTACT THEM and said DON'T WORRY. They stated Hillary's discussions were just political rhetoric. And may I add that Bill Clinton was in Canada at the time this was whole thing was being reported and misreported.

    Now ask yourself, do you really believe that Penn wasn't acting for the Clintons as well as himself? I do and I'm disappointed in David Gergen's reporting of this.

    April 7, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. let te truth be known

    Penn is still there, Maggie Williams has help this don't matter people will still vote the way they're going to vote. When ever Hillary is a liar and that is just that.

    April 7, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. North Carolina

    Penn has worked for the Clintons a long time, and previously well. He seems by all accounts a brilliant pollster and was a highly valued member of her team. Unfortunately, his promotion to CEO of Burson Marsteller seems to have gone to his head: it has conflict of interest written all over it. I agree it is not in the same league as the Goolsbee incident because Clinton did not send him, but it is ugly nonetheless, that he shows so little loyalty, not to mention common sense, and I wish she had fired him outright. Please note, Clinton was not in office for NAFTA, but she voted AGAINST CAFTA: there is no reason to doubt she will vote against the Columbian Free Trade Bill.

    April 7, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Cornell

    Why even bother to contact the media to report "Penn's resignation" when it's clear he hasn't gone anywhere? More Clinton campaign spin....

    April 7, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
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