August 11th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Penn wanted to paint Obama as lacking ‘American roots’

Mark Penn was Hillary Clinton's chief strategist.
Mark Penn was Hillary Clinton's chief strategist.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist wanted to attack Sen. Barack Obama for lacking “American roots” during the Democratic primary battle, according to a magazine article set to come out next week.

“All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light. Save it for 2050,” Mark Penn, then Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, wrote in a memo written in March 2007, according to an article to be published in The Atlantic magazine.

“It also exposes a very strong weakness for him – his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot image America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values,” Penn wrote, according to the article written by Joshua Green.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. No control.

    "Green highlights bitter fighting among Clinton’s staff, writing "“her advisors couldn’t execute strategy; they routinely attacked and undermined each other, and Clinton never forced a resolution.""

    Can you imagine, if she could'nt keep her campaign staff in order how would she have been able to maintain her White House staff? Oh well, guess we'll never have to worry about it.

    August 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Where was McCain the first few years of his life? NOT U.S.A.

    Beware what you start.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. ProudToBeDemocrat

    Wolf why are you trying to create problem for the democrats by bringing ridiculos stuff like this are you trying to help the Republicans win your support for the GOP is getting obvious.

    August 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. rich

    It seems the Clinton team is still fuming over their defeat. It's a little early for a post-mortem analysis as their party is now supposed to be focused on beating John McCain rather than continually bashing Obama as if the primaries were not over.

    August 11, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. blaising

    What a bunch of crybabies. This is not important...

    August 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. larry

    “Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices.........” Hmm.....doesn't sound much like presidential material to me.

    August 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Sickofinanities

    ah, bigotry and ignorance must have clouded the ability to manage the campaign and FINANCE.

    August 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Election Watcher

    Sadly, it becomes more evident every day, that the DNC bet on the wrong horse.

    Just say Nobama '08

    August 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Nate

    If she can not manage her own campaign, how can she manage the country? If she avoided making the tough decisions in her campaign, how will she be able to make the much harder decisions that come with running the country?

    August 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. AL - West Palm Beach - FL

    CNN....come on, I don't care how and why she lost...That's not news.

    Why aren't reporting on Obama's policy book slated to come out on September 9, 2008. Since you and FIXed News have said he has no substance for his policies.... I guess the $13 & change to pay for the paperback is not too much for you, huh Wolf?

    August 11, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Chris

    Why is this being posted now? Shoulda woulda coulda, it's time for the democrats to unite and become a party, this kind of hind sighted "news" will do nothing but spread the party apart.

    August 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. Franky

    "Sen. Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist wanted to attack Sen. Barack Obama for lacking “American roots” during the Democratic primary battle, according to a magazine article set to come out Tuesday."

    Well, well...let me see. Wasn't he a member of the "Clinton Machine?" Wasn't he with the campaign that thought they were gonna win?? Wasn't he with the campaign when Hillary cried?? Etc...

    Hmm, I guess is true. If there's one thing that the Clintons "lack" is being a happy camper. Hmmm, so much for the dream, huh? And so much for their prediction...

    August 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    You want to know the real shame about all this crap?

    THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING. NO WONDER NO ONE TRUST'S THE U.S..A. They don't have to destroy us. Our politicians are doing it for them.

    Grow up people – THINK !!!!!!!!!!!! For a change.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. ProudToBeDemocrat

    Get over it you bunch of idiots and cry babies.

    August 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Democrat for John McCain

    Obama is a fraud. He has to go back to Kenya. Larry King does not have anybody to bring on the show tonight. He is bringing Nancy Pelosi. She is a disgrace to America.

    August 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Typical White Person

    Does anyone wonder why Obama's mother sent her son to Hawaii but kept her daughter in Indonesia?

    If she really and truly worried about the educational opportunities in Indonesia, why didn't she send her daughter to Hawaii too?

    I smell something and the press aught to smell it as well. But that would mean digging into things like the Masque he attended with his stepfather and reporting about the lies he told in his book...

    August 11, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. Erica from GA

    This guy is an idiot. Hawaii IS in America and Sen. Obama was in Indonedia for a few years when he was a small child. Please. No one else ever hire this guy unless you want him to advise your opponent. He didn't even know the rules of the primaries. No winner take all for Democrats. LOL.

    August 11, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. The Bush Twins : George and John

    In other words Hillary made a poor choice in selecting her campaign staff, not to mention, couldn't make important decisions, and so on, and so on. Long story short – ran the campaign into the ground. (Won't mention the fiasco of Bill campaiging for her). I'm soooo glad that woman did not get the nom !.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Linda from Prescott AZ

    This is just plain nonsense. The Primary Season is over. We have a candidate and enough whining already.

    August 11, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Freedom of speech, CNN – stop pushing McCain at us !!!!!!!

    You want to know the real shame about all this crap?

    THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING. NO WONDER NO ONE TRUST'S THE U.S..A. They don't have to destroy us. Our politicians are doing it for them.

    Grow up people – THINK !!!!!!!!!!!! For a change.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. CH

    Why is she back in the news!?! Just go away! Who cares about an attack that someone wanted to frame during the primary season?

    August 11, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. chuckd

    All this talk of Sen Obama not being an American and not having American roots is the raving of a sore loser!!! Sen. Obama is has much an American has you or I. Mr Penn face it , you ran a loser campaign on Sen Clinton's behalf and you screwed it up, so please spare us the whining.

    CBH

    August 11, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. voter

    What are "American Roots"?policing the world with our guns? siloing ourselves from the rest of the world and getting people to hate us?

    Right now we NEED a world view... and McCain is NOT it. Less than 20% of major world leaders supports him according to many polls.

    August 11, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Actually, while I'm not a huge fan of Hillary Clinton, I would contend that the basic premise of this article – that Senator Clinton failed to win the nomination because of her "habit of avoiding hard choices" – is belied by the fact that she, in fact, FIRED Mark Penn as her campaign strategist. She may have lost – but not because she couldn't strongly and decisvely oppose devisive and racially-tinged advice.

    August 11, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Obama supporter in New Jersey

    Great CNN! Give ideas to the McSANE campaign. it won't matter...people want CHANGE!

    August 11, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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