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. Forgiveness

    That's so hilarious!. No one will ever forget this.

    April 4, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Plee

    WOW. Just WOW!

    April 4, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Bob, Kentucky

    What's good for the gander is good for the goose.

    April 4, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Joseph Moise

    Clinton, Clinton,Clinton...! when point your fingers to your opponents, your thumb points right back to you.

    April 4, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. joan nicholson


    Fire him!

    April 4, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Mike

    How much more of this deceit do you Billary supporters need!! YOU supporters need to tell her to drop out of this race NOW!!!

    April 4, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. True Independent, MD

    I hope PA voters will not allow themselves to be manipulated and deceived by Hillary as the OH voters unfortunately did!!

    April 4, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. True Independent, MD

    Hillary supporters, where art thou?

    April 4, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. postxian

    Are you listening, PA & IN Dems?

    April 4, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. RollaMO

    Colombia's government busts union activity by any means necessary, including murder. At least when Walmart busts union activity, they don't kill anyone.... "as far as I know."

    April 4, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Ted R.

    Another example to be added to the ever-growing laundry list of problems with Hillary's campaign. It's quite apparent that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Just imagine what would happen in the White House.

    April 4, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Tjaye

    LMAO!! Will this madness ever end? Do you people really want her to lead you?

    Obama '08!!

    April 4, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Well at least Hillary's aides do admit they made an error in judgement. obama rude and crude aides just keep on keeping on and add more.

    April 4, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Waaaiit a minute

    wow. This woman will never cease to amaze me.

    April 4, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Ross in MD

    His 'error in judgement' was signing on to a losing campaign!

    April 4, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Lookout below, Hillary's approval rating is about to fall dramatically.

    Hillary, you just lost any chance at Ohio this fall.

    April 4, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. smith

    The entire Clinton campaign has been an error in judgement. I say, keep Penn on board, it can only help Obama.

    April 4, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. vince - phoenix

    The irony is PALPABLE!

    I 'love' it!

    April 4, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. Ken, LA California

    So who is doing the Wink Wink now

    April 4, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Shirley, Silicon Valley, CA

    This is just a preview of how the lobbyists, special interest groups and fat cats are taking up Hillary's "cabinet". Hillary is just too weak to fight people she cannot control like Bill Clinton and Mark Penn!

    April 4, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Chris-Seattle

    An "error in judgment", along with the vote to go to war, NAFTA, removing files from Vince Fosters office after his death, Whitewater, travelgate, kitchen sink tactics, mis-management of your campaign, throwing your daughter to the wolves.

    Interestingly though, it seems this is what a lot of Americans want in a President, I feel sorry for America!!! God Bless you!

    April 4, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Firewolf

    If my chief strategist was that asinine, he'd be gone in a flash. Penn's "error in judgement" wasn't something that happened inadvertantly, like having a little too much to drink. That trip and that meeting took a lot of time and planning, so there were plenty of opportunities along the way for Penn to stop and question what he was doing. The guy's an idiot with a sever conflict of interest, which makes him the perfect candidate to run for some type of public office?

    April 4, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. Jack Robertson

    'Error in judgment' and 'misspoke' are typical of the litany of euphemisms that have come to characterize the Clinton campaign. If Hillary loses her bid for the nomination, it will not be stated as a defeat but as a 'delegate majority deficit'. It would be a refreshing change if Clinton and her supporters spoke to the public in plain English rather than in Orwellian 'Newspeak'. After all, a lie by any other name is still a lie and an 'error in judgment' is still stupidity.

    April 4, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Christopher W. Mannoia

    Well, she attacked Senator Obama when his aide went to Canada, and did something similar, right? SHAME ON YOU HILLARY CLINTON!

    April 4, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Justine, Cincinnati

    I used to get really worked up and mad about Hillary's daily tactics to win the nomination. Now I'm just feeling sorry for her. She just keeps shooting herself in the foot...

    April 4, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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