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. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Penn is pathetic. With him as strategist, no wonder Hillary lost. Penn even LOOKS like he's half nuts!

    August 11, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. Stephen H

    Here we go now. Somehow, the whacky PUMAs and hard-core Clinton supporters will somehow spin this as being Obama's fault. This topic clearly demonstrates that Hillary did not know how to run a campaign and did not deserve to get the nomination – – -period.

    August 11, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Franky

    You know, all I wanna say is that I don't think is right when you talk about your chances after what happened to Senator Edwards. Or let alone I don't think is right if it's your party.

    Poor Senator Edwards and his family are going through an ordeal while the "Clinton Machine" is talking about how it couldv'e benefit them and he's probably right. But I think it shows more than that...

    August 11, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. linus

    Isn't it at least possible that she lost because more people prefer Obama?

    August 11, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Nadine

    Those Clintons have so many people fool and under a demonic spell. The clinton are no better than cut throat Karl Rove and Bush croonies. Bill Clinton and his many adultery's affairs and Hillary knew it and people this is what you want back in the white house? Woe unto America!

    August 11, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Coach G

    Ummm.....isn't Hawaii one of the 50 states????

    August 11, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Peter

    I commend Sen. Clinton for not sinking to this "issue". I doubt it would have made much difference as it is just another farce the right wing is using to attack Sen. Obama.
    I think his background shows what commitment he has to this country. Here is a guy who traveled around and then made a commitment to come back to the US to study, go to college, go to law school, raise a family, and then pledge himself to serving the public. What's the problem there?

    Hey right wingers: Which candidate was born within the 50 states? Here's a hint: it wasn't McCain.

    August 11, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Caroline, Kentucky

    Wow.

    August 11, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. Glendell Latham

    No matter what anyone says. Hillary has a huge following and she
    is someone to be reckoned with in the Democratic Party.

    August 11, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. SJ

    why is hillary & staff still giving McCain ideas???

    Keep it up and dems will make sure Hillary loses her Senate seat too.

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    There is no evil in God's kindom!

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. NGANGA,Austin TX

    Is that a job aplication to the McShame campaign or an excuse for having been paid Milliaons by the Clintons?

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Linda31

    Really? Last I checked Hawaii was a State in America. Also, he was in Indonesia for about 2 years of his life. Penn is crazy.

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. JD

    “Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

    ...given this statement, she would have made a good President why?

    Isn't making hard choices pretty much the job description for POTUS?

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Swampy

    HRC's "hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices" says it all. That's not flexibility and the ability to grasp and appreciate nuance. That's cowardice, and that's why I am so grateful she didn't slip past the voting public and grab the nomination.

    Obama/Biden '08

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Enlightened Voter

    Hahaha puma/pac babes and chicadees. I've said it a million times. She poorly ran her campaign and its finances and yet you demented people wanted her to run your country. Incredible! She never had my vote anyway and NEVER will.

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. Noah

    In response to the Clinton winning without Edwards in the race article

    I have a new scenario:
    If over half the nation had a half a brain Bush would have lost in 2004.
    You can take that one to the bank.

    Seriously America, prove me wrong.

    August 11, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Saratoga

    Come on, Clinton is the last person to use such a strategy. Isn't she the New York senator, now how long has she been a resident prior to her election, and what type of patriotism she showed New York prior to her election. Owe yeah she tried to abandon that post for something else as soon as she thought the opportunity was there. Yeah question some ones core, yelp if New Yorkers would have done this with her, would she be a senator for New York or Arkansas.?

    August 11, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Gary Jaussaud

    Gary's comment is:

    Sen. Clinton would have won if this or she would or should of won because of this or that, Well when horses fly, she did not win, and that
    is it, its over, and Hillery needs to get over it as well.

    August 11, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. LYNETTE IN CA

    “Her hesitancy and habit of AVOIDING HARD CHOICES exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

    So much for being ready at day one! If she cannot make fundamental decisions for her campaign and rally her own troops to make them work for her not against her, then how can she run a country? Running a country requires good, consistent judgement. Not avoidance!

    OBAMA '08 / '12

    August 11, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Candy West Virginia

    Barack's unique upbringing here and abroad has what has given him his brilliant perspective on life and the issues, it what aides in his being a visionary. He is a breath of fresh air that this country sorely needs. We are lucky to have him. And is it any wonder why Clinton lost? can't manage a campaign = can't manage a country.

    August 11, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. karl

    "fundamentally American in HIS thinking and in HIS values..."

    Hey PUMA, looks like this guy didn't really think Hillary had a chance either.

    August 11, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. chicago chris

    before all the Hillary supporters who didn't actually read the article come up with some type of consipracy theory please remember it says "Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”"

    Probably not the best candidate if her own aides are saying this about her campaign.

    FOr the record, I would love to see Hillary win the vote at the Dem National COnvention. Think of all the BO supporters that will be pissed and not even vote. Hillary would have 18 million total votes in the GE.

    August 11, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. 78 /white/f/ 4 Obama 08/12

    Kerry never got past go "Jealous " for Hillary ,a sore looser so now he is trying to get fame by being on front page with his made up pure lies .He must be another re-buttican with a mask on.
    Throw him under the bus.
    Sr.'s vote for Obama .
    Leave Viagara user Mc Darkages ,1800's technology idiot
    that don't even know how to send an email ..... in the year 2008 ???back where he already is taking a nap with Depends and when he dreams he is hoping his helpers put the harness on his horses/wagon so he can get to the next Town Hall.

    Can you imagine how long we have had computers and he is rinning for President of this country in the year 2008 and he cannot send an email today??Wise guy he is NOT

    Obama will win so you whiners may as well get used to the words President Obama .

    August 11, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. karen-phoenix

    What a STUPID idea!!! Obama's roots are in Kansas!!! And Hawaii!! Wish I was from Hawaii. GO Obama

    August 11, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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