April 8th, 2008
09:39 AM ET
12 years ago

Clinton says Penn controversy won’t be damaging


Watch Clinton speak on CNN's American Morning.

(CNN) - Hillary Clinton predicted on Tuesday the recent controversy surrounding her top advisor's meeting with the Colombian government wouldn't prove damaging to her campaign, and suggested she dealt with the matter more definitively than Barack Obama did when he faced a similar situation.

"I don't think [it will hurt], because I think people want to know where I stand," Clinton said on CNN's American Morning, reiterating her opposition to a free trade agreement with the Colombians.

"I find it kind of curious, we took action, and I think it was appropriate," she continued. "Contrast that to Senator Obama's campaign where, as far as I know, nothing was ever done when one of his top economic advisers representing the campaign, unlike Mr. Penn who was not representing the campaign, but Mr. Obama's representative told the Canadian government basically not to pay any attention to what Senator Obama was saying about NAFTA."

The comments are in reference to her campaign's former chief strategist, Mark Penn, who resigned that post over the weekend after news surfaced he had met with the Colombian ambassador in his role as CEO of a P.R. firm to promote a free trade bill Clinton sharply criticizes.

The controversy was reminiscent of that which surrounded Obama shortly before the Ohio primary, when an economic advisor reportedly told a Canadian official Barack Obama wasn't as opposed to NAFTA as he was claiming to be. Clinton sharply criticized the Illinois senator at the time, suggesting he was being disingenuous about his opposition to free trade, and went on to win Ohio by double-digits.

Also in the CNN interview, Clinton made clear she thinks the party's nominee cannot be decided until the votes in Florida and Michigan are factored in.

"We have two major states who are in limbo despite the fact they voted and their votes were certified by their respective secretaries of state, and I was willing to do a re-vote in both states and Senator Obama was not," Clinton said. "I think that if we don't resolve those, then we'll be going forward to the convention."

soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Jennifer

    So hard to believe you Hillary...

    April 8, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Bukky

    Oh puhlease... you very public campaign manager was WORKING to make this deal to happen. And have those allegations even been corroborated or are you just repeating gossip as usual.

    April 8, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. Walt, Belton,TX

    I suspect Hillary and Bill were behind the whole thing and her public position of being against the trade bill was bull and she was actually for it because she got paid off, just like Bill would have if he was still the bribe disposal unit.........

    April 8, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. Chris, Albany NY

    1st of all it is for the voters to decide wether or not this controversy will or will not be damaging to her campaign. There;s to much of a conflict of interest is this thing, and above all else Mr. Penn is still with the campaign!

    April 8, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. JJ in NY

    IS hillary inhaling again ? The Canadian government was referring to someone in the clinton campaign....NOT Obama . Will hillary ever gets the facts straight and stop her lying ?

    April 8, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Marc in DeKalb, IL

    You tread on very dangerous ground when you centralize your campaign around NAFTA.

    Perhaps the PA people weren't watching as you blew smoke in OH on the same issue... (and accused Obama of something your campaign did, which is... calling Canada to inform them that you don't really mean it)...

    In short: You have lied too much. Your fundamental issue is surrounded by lies. You lobbied hard for NAFTA. Your actions, and that of your campaign, regarding foreign trade are shifty at best, but suggest that you do not believe the rhetoric you are using to win blue collar votes.

    Pennsylvania! Wake up!

    Anyone but Clinton in '08!

    April 8, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. BenNow

    I wish I could but it's hard for me to believe anything that comes out of Hillary's mouth now.

    April 8, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. bailey

    What action did she take? Penn is still a senior advisor in her campaign, according to him. A big thanks goes out to Rush Limbaugh for keeping Hillary in the race, thus stimulating so many new democrats to register. Meanwhile, why should we believe anything Hillary says?

    April 8, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. Phil in Texas

    Dear Senator Clinton,

    You are a liar!! We do not believe anything you say. You are selfish and only want to be president to fulfill you and your husbands greedy voids. It's funny how you now believe every vote should count when you agreed to Michigan and Florida being discounted from the very beginning. Now that you need them....

    Disappointed former supporter,

    April 8, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. sue


    We dont trust anything you say anymore Hillary!

    April 8, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. Nate in Mpls

    Why is it now being reported as truth that the Obama advisor said to the Canadian officials "not to worry about Obama's stance on NAFTA", that it's just politics? As I recall, the story ended up being not true. This JUST happened weeks ago. The media, in this case, and Hillary herself, continues this false narrative when it was outted as never happening?

    I don't like the way the truth and lies are intermingled so effortlessly surrounding this and many issues. Where can a person find the facts? And why doesn't the media or Hillary get called out on this?

    April 8, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  12. Mike in Houston

    Her top advisor was lobbying for the Columbians yet she didn't know it.

    There was no sniper fire yet she didn't know it.

    There was no death at a hospital for lack of insurance yet she didnt' know it.

    Not exactly ready on Day 1 or even to pick up that 3 a.m. phone call.

    April 8, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. Dan

    Virtual Reality: It is interesting to see how Clinton spins this. It suggests that, far from being dishonest, she is trapped in a mythical universe of her own making.

    April 8, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  14. Oski

    Wait a minute. My recollection is that there remained an unanswered dispute of fact about what Obama's aide said to the Canadians. They took some notes that represented the aide as saying that Obama was "playing politics" when he spoke negatively about NAFTA–a rather shocking thing for any aide to say. Indeed, Obama's aide denied ever making such a silly, counterproductive statement.

    In Clinton's case, there is no question about what her affiliate did regarding Columbia, right? Unless my recollection is mistaken, it seems extremely disingenuous for her to compare the two episodes.

    April 8, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  15. Avatar826

    There you go again, not accepting any responsiblity and trying to throw mud yet again at Obama.

    I started the election without a true opinion of you, and now through all the series of your elections I have lost faith in the whole clinton family.

    April 8, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. Greg in Memphis, TN

    Save it Hillary!!! You're a liar.. Don't use Barack as an excuse take ownership for what has occured!!

    Obama 08!!!

    April 8, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. Mike

    She is right... she acted quickly and Obama did not do anything to his adviser... I think it is really sad that Obama has been stating that he is not like the "Old Washington"... yet he continues to play dirty politics through his supporters and he also has similar staff that all of the candidates employee... LOBBYIST!!!

    Once again all of the Obama supporters will run with this one and try to spin the facts...

    April 8, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. Carolyn

    Hillary will say and do anything to get nominated for President. If a person will say and do anything that's the kind of person you really have to stay clear of. I do not have any trust in this womem especially not to be my President. She does not have the interest of the people this a "personal" gain for HILLARY CLINTON. She lie, lies and lies.

    April 8, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Realistic

    Yes, Hillary, your credibility is so high. Only the blindly radical feminists and senile Geezers With Wheezers who will not be around in 2012 still believe in you.

    Hillary, you own appointments calendar clearly shows that on many occasions you not only supported NAFTA but were in charge of events to both promote NAFTA and to suppress labor's opposition to NAFTA. Yet you have continued to lie about that, as you have so many other things.

    April 8, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. nastyfighter

    I can not trust a single word coming out of her mouth.

    April 8, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  21. Paul Pavlik

    Her credibility continues to decrease. Hope she gets trounced in the Penna. primary and withdraws from the campaign at long last. Noone would be more divisive as Pres. than she would

    April 8, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Eric-PA

    She's right! The media likes to dwell on stories that make Hillary look bad, but they fail to do the same for Obama. It's been like this for months now.

    April 8, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. KY for Obama

    Lies, lies, lies... the Colombian gov't itself was unsure if Penn was representing his company or Clinton's campaign. Also, how can she have the gall to raise the Canada-NAFTA issue again; it turned out to be HER campaign that gave the wink-wink to Canadia officals. I suppose she is trying to capitalize on the media's lack of attention to this fact. Please, someone call her out on this, which I'm sure she wil later dispute as yet another simple "misspeak".

    And for the last time, Obama NEVER EVER said he was not willing to do a revote in FL and MI!! He has been consistent that he will agree to whatever the DNC finds as an appropriate resolution.

    April 8, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Cami

    Funny, the Colombians didn't seem to realize whether Penn was there on behalf of her campaign (wink, wink). I'm curious as to what "action" she took, as Mr. Penn seems to still be a major player in her campaign and is most definitely still on the payroll. She changed his title, so now everything is supposed to be okay?

    April 8, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. karen from va

    I believe that the Canadian Government apologized to Obama for making a false statement and Clinton has her facts confused, as usual.
    Clinton didn't even get rid of Penn, she just demoted the guy... so the Columbian Government is more straigtforward than Clinton, because they actually DID fire him. Now that's a sad state of affairs.

    April 8, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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