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.

Full story


Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Danielle, TX

    Wow!! What a shocker!!

    August 11, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Personal to Obama = Demise of USA:

    Stop listening to Rush, please; do yourself a favor and start thinking for yourself.

    August 11, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Lost in CNN Moderation

    How many wanna bet McCain hires him?

    August 11, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. A NATION OF WHINERS for OBAMA

    PEN MUST BE CONFIRMING THIS FOR BILL,

    BECAUSE THE REST OF US HAVE ALWAYS

    KNOWN WHAT THE CLINTON STRATEGY WAS.

    IT WASN'T FAIR, INTELLIGENT, OR HONORABLE.

    August 11, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. druid

    Demise get a life. Is McCain born in the USA do your home work. Now we know where all the idea of no exprience comes from. Thanks internal memo.

    August 11, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Phil in KC

    So Penn wanted her to go even MORE negative? That's what turned me off about her in the first place.
    I originally was rooting for Biden or Dodd. After they dropped out, I switched to Edwards. When he suspended his campaign, I decided to bide my time before jumping on anyone's bandwagon. After all, there was very little difference between them on the issues. I eventually settled on Obama when Hillary went negative. I felt his campaign was more positive. He also did not have the air of entitlement that seemed to permeate the Clinton campaign. (BTW – I am a former Iowan. So I have to question Hillary's supposition that she would have won if Edwards had dropped out earlier.)

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. We're NOT "your friends"!!!

    I guess were gonna have to label anyone born in Hawaii a lesser-american. Does Hawaii still have seats in congress, better give those back IMMEDIATELY!!!

    McCain too, the old cote was born in PANAMA, he's a lesser-american too!

    Get real.

    OBAMA 2008 + 2012

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. I'M SICK TO DEATH OF SUSAN'S COMMENTS

    Mark Penn and Howard Wolfson need to go away. I can't believe we're still hearing from these men who torpedoed Hillary's campaign. I think her biggest mistake was her lack of judgment when it comes to people's character. That is a serious flaw that we don't want in our next President. None of these people appears interested in unifying the party. They all appear to be too self-interested.

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Broad Street Buddy

    Who cares what he wanted to do! He got fired and his boss lost, but the team (democrats) will ultimately win.

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. How does CNN determine who gets posted?

    "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."

    I guess the fact that he was attached at the hip to his white American mother means absolutely nothing to the Clintons. Or the fact that he was raised by his white American grandparents in the US means nothing. Since when did Hawaii become a foreign country?

    What does he mean exactly when he says "not fundamentaly American...in his values". Is he trying to say that black people don't have (American) values?

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Lost in CNN Moderation

    "Obviously he lacks American roots… You'll all see when he gets elected and we start allowing stonings of adulterers and thieves in city capitals."

    Ha! My God you just HAVE to laugh at the ignorance of some people! Stoning adulterers and thieve? I think the Republicans will be the first to go!

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. An American

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

    How telling is that? Hear that "Clinton or die" fanatics? She couldn't make saving decisions in her own campaign. Hmmm, perhaps she wouldn't have been the best president!!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Republicans Hate America

    Nice comb-over Penn. How is this story solving global warming?

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. anonymous

    Obama is too smart to pick HILLARY. We will sure have more scandals in the White House if he does. Back to the Clinton days.
    It is hard for me to understand why he would even consider Hillary after all the ugly debates the two had. People we all saw it on TV and heard it with our own ears.

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Rachel

    Hillary is not racist. I wish the Obama memos would come out wonder what he said. Also did you all forget to note it said she didnt use the tatics? of course not anything to bash Hillary.

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. Pat in Cali

    stop the lies about Obama.

    everybody who is for McCain is wishing the demise of the United States.

    McShame = USA third world country by 2012

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. ginny bell j.b.n.ga.

    EVERYTIME SHE OPENED HER MOUTH....
    THE MEDIA ATE HER ALIVE....
    SHE COULD NOT TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS LACK OF ANYTHING .....THAT THE MEDIA DIDN'T SAY .......SHE "WOULD SAY OR DO ANYTHING TO BE THE PRES......."
    NOW WHAT ARE YOU IN THE MEDIA GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS????????
    HE NEEDS TO CHOISE HER AS HIS VICE.PRES........
    MCCAIN.....YOU PICK HILL.AS YOUR VP....
    WHY IS MICHELLE SPEAKING???????
    SHE IS NOT PROUD OF HER COUNTRY?????
    SHE HATES WHITE PEOPLE......... HER THEME PAPER FROM COLLEGE......
    DOES NOT MATTER I WANT WATCH ANYWAY......
    IF NOT HILL.........
    GO MCCAIN.......08

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Dan , TX

    And we all know what a brilliant man Mark Penn is.... That's the kind of thinking that led Clinton to lose.

    And to "Obama = Demise of USA" who posted ignorant drivel. You are not an American, no American would be so ignorant and/or such a lying pig.

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Michelle - Michigan

    I thought Hawaii was an American state? A beautiful state... but American none the less.

    Hateful Clinton racists are just jealous. Who wouldn't mind having such a culturally rich childhood.

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. ginny bell j.b.n.ga.

    I HEARD ALL HIS KIN IS PACKING FOR THE MOVE TO THE WHITE HOUSE......

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. Chips

    Just come on out of the wood work. We got the RAID!

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. New Yorker

    The Clinton's aversion for the truth cost them in this instance.

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Cyrus - NY

    Mark Penn is a fascist!!

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. T from Kzoo

    I cannot believe this . . . but seeing as how it is related to Clinton's campaign, I actually can. I'm extremely glad that she did not win. She couldn't even run her own pathetic campaign, she couldn't even control her paid advisors (let alone her husband, but that is an entirely different issue), how on God's green earth is she supposed to be able to run/control the country?!

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Bradley In Colorado

    To "Obama = Demise of USA"

    That was the biggest load of bull I ever saw, and trust me, I've seen a lot! I suggest you take a look much closer to home (aka, the McCain campaign). Obama isn't the only one being deified, you know...and people like you prove it, simply by pinning Obama as a kind of demon and McCain as your worshiped deity of choice.

    Shame what kind of people we have in this country.

    August 11, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8