April 4th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Penn calls trade meeting 'error in judgment'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/04/art.penn.gi.jpg caption="Mark Penn is a chief strategist for the Clinton campaign."](CNN) - Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn said Friday it was an "error in judgment" for him to meet with the Colombian ambassador to advocate for a free-trade agreement Hillary Clinton has said she opposes.

"The meeting was an error in judgment that will not be repeated and I am sorry for it," Penn said in an issued statement. "The senator's well known opposition to this trade deal is clear and was not discussed."

The meeting, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, occurred Monday. Penn appears to have been acting in his role as chief executive of the international communications and lobbying firm, Burson-Marsteller Worldwide. The Colombian Embassy hired the firm to help achieve congressional approval of a bill allowing free trade with the country - a proposal Clinton has sharply criticized.

Earlier Friday, Clinton spokesperson Mo Elleithee said the New York senator "remains steadfast against the Colombian Trade Bill," and maintained Penn's meeting was "not in any way done on behalf of the campaign."

Clinton has sharply criticized America's free trade agreements as she campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, and was particularly critical of rival Barack Obama in February when it was reported that one of his chief foreign policy advisors had suggested to a Canadian official that the Illinois senator was not as anti-free trade as he was claiming to be on the trail.

"I don't think people should come to Ohio and tell the people of Ohio one thing and then have your campaign tell a foreign government something else behind closed doors," Clinton said then. "That's the kind of difference between talk and action and that I've been pointing out in this campaign."

"I would ask you to look at that story, substitute my name for Senator Obama," she also said. "If some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments and basically saying ignore what I'm saying because it's only political rhetoric ... I think it raises serious questions."

Earlier: Campaign: Penn wasn't representing Clinton in trade meeting

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Mark Penn
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. mcd

    Ah yes, the do as I say not as I do approach.

    Obama 08

    April 4, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Pee Wee

    He's holding that finger in the air, just like his mentor!

    Enough already!

    April 4, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. rafael

    Come on now relax everybody, no need to get too critical on Penn boy. It's obvious what happened here; simply another incident in which he simply made ANOTHER mistake due to sleep deprivation, which proves he's human. He's also under additional stress from Sniper Fire!!!

    April 4, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Joy

    The Clinton campaign (with the media) crucified Obama just b/4 Ohio/Texas primaries on NAFTA (story that turned out not to be true) though under-reported on that side).
    Will the media focus attention on this one in the Clinton campaign as this "raises serious questions" per her own words–let's see this running 24/7.

    April 4, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Doc

    "substitute my name for Senator Obama".....let's just do that.

    April 4, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Dave

    Mark Penn already has a conflict of interest, since he works for both the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign. You've got to wonder which client he was actually trying to help when he made this brillaint move...

    April 4, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. cj-delhi,ny

    I'm sure he just "misspoke" as they do so well in the Clinton camp.

    Obama 08

    April 4, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Carrie PA

    Only Hillary would spin this towards Obama! ENOUGH ALREADY!

    April 4, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. Martin in PA

    Hypocrites all!!

    April 4, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Jim in NYC

    There is much that can be revealed about the attacks that an individual makes against another. In fact, some believe that is very revealing about their own true nature. Be sure to pay attention to what Senator Clinton has said / will be saying about her Peter Paul case that starts next week.

    April 4, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. michael, ny

    I dont know about you, but it looks to me like this guy is trying to find a way to get fired so that he wont take the blame for Clinton's failing campaign.

    April 4, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. Eric

    Where is Cherryl when Hillary needs her the most?

    Can't wait to read her delusional comments about this one.

    April 4, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Don't Trust Obama

    This can't be good.

    April 4, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. GT in CA

    The super delagates are lining up for Obama now. The momentum is building stronger every day. Time for Hillary to see the writing on the wall...

    April 4, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. me me

    Now that I've substituted Hillary's name what will she do. Is this a nod nod blink blink?

    April 4, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Mike

    One bungle after another, not to mention one lie after another, is the hallmark of a dysfunctional and dangerous organization.

    April 4, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. moses,Ca.

    Talking about double standards. This shows you what the Clintons are really like. do anything,say anything.

    April 4, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. MC

    And . . . keep in mind, Obama only did is race speech . . . b/c he got caught !!! This is happening in both democratic camps . . . I would suggest keeping your disparaging remarks to yourselves, unless you want the words to come back and bite you . . . b/c they will.

    GO HILLARY 2008 !!!!

    April 4, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. David

    Remember the Canadians corrected their mistake and said that it was Clinton's campaign that made the comment, not Obama's.

    April 4, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. Matthew Chicago

    A lobbyist is her chief strategist! How crooked! Get rid of the lobbyists Hillary and maybe your campaign might have a few dollars to spend. Where will this guy sit when and if she is elected...right on her lap!

    Any doubt about voting for Obama has now been erased.

    April 4, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. debra

    Thats a lie. This report even mentions that it happened. Also it was in a canadian newspaper. The difference is that Barracks rep stated that Barrack a0pproved what he was saying. Pen admits that Hillary strongly opposes it and he did it on his own. Keep in mind that all these people working in the campaigns have lives outside of the campaign. .

    April 4, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Harry, NY

    My major concern about Hillary's "Ability to lead" is her continual inability to control her own campaign.

    It appears to be completely chaotic.

    April 4, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Andrew

    I am for Hillary but this is what happens when you have lobbyist running your campaign. Hillary needs to let him go or it will be the end of me for her!

    April 4, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Don't Trust Obama

    CNN, it says Leave Your Comment, but my comment gets lost in oblivion.

    April 4, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. NC for Obama

    Mark Penn needs a strategist for his hair cut!

    April 4, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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