(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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - This week, the spirited back-and-forth between the camps of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led some in the Democratic Party to suggest that Clinton bow out of the race in order to unify Democrats against Sen. John McCain in the general election. The debate over whether it was time for Clinton to exit the race dominated the Sunday morning political talk show circuit.
CNN’s “Late Edition” featured a showdown between two Democratic strategists, Clinton supporter James Carville and Jamal Simmons, who backs Obama. Carville quickly downplayed any suggestion that Clinton drop out.
“The Clinton campaign has not had one one-second meeting about getting out of the race,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Calling on her to get out of the race is…going to hurt him in terms of getting votes. And it is going to make it more difficult to reconcile the party.”
Simmons responded that it’s the negativity coming from the Clinton campaign that’s tearing the Democratic Party apart. He said that Democrats “feel like Senator Clinton is fighting Barack Obama like he's a Republican and not fighting him like he's a fellow Democrat.”
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton supporter and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell became the latest member of the New York senator's campaign Thursday to raise the prospect of a joint presidential ticket with Barack Obama, saying in an interview that whoever comes out on top in the presidential race should offer the vice presidency to the other.
"I think it’s important that it be offered, and if the loser doesn’t accept, I think the loser can say why," Rendell told the National Journal's Ron Brownstein. "You know, obviously, I’d love to see a Clinton/Obama ticket. But if Senator Obama won, I think his offering it to Senator Clinton would be a great gesture.
"I’m not sure she would take it, I’m not sure he would take it," Rendell also said. " But either way, I think that it would be good if the offer were made."
Rendell's comments follow those of Clinton on Wednesday morning, who told CBS she thinks the contest may be headed for a joint ticket. Terry McAuliffe, a top adviser to Clinton, has also raised the prospect on more than one occasion.
Obama's campaign brushes aside any speculation on the matter as "premature," and some backers of the Illinois senator have suggested the Clinton campaign raises the prospect so voters think a vote for her will come with Obama as well.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney