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. JAY in Los Angeles

    Hillary's ability to keep a soldier's attitude during this trying campaign is one of the many reasons I'm going to vote for her, no matter what happens. I simply can't sign my name to Obama, who I believe to be incredibly devious and underhanded, or McCain, who I view to be too pro-war for my taste. There's a website now for people who will write Hillary in if she's not the nominee. Google writehillaryin and you'll find it.

    April 8, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. Mike

    That is correct Hillary. NBC news contacted the Canadian government twice and they verified both times that Obama's people did contact them about NAFTA and did tell them to not worry that what Obama would be saying in the Ohio debate is just "campaign rhetoric". The Canadian news report that came out after that said Obama's people did not talk to them was a false report bought by the Obama campaign.

    April 8, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Ric

    Go Hillary! If not Hillary, then Mc Cain.
    Obama equals racist church, and anti American.

    April 8, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. Brenna

    Joyce in Florida – traits like "arrogance" or wanting to have things handed to him "on a platter" have nothing to do with how he'd be as president. Those are your personal opinions. One of the criteria I go by is how his campaign has been managed which is really quite well, especially compared to Clinton. He has managed his campaign money and strategies in terms of organization and outreach, brilliantly. To me, this bodes well for his skills as an administrator which one needs as president. And I truly admire his work as a community organizer, a choice he made rather than going into the big time $$$$$ law firm which was the route Clinton chose. There's no doubt that Clinton is a very, very smart woman, but her campaign management has been all over the place and her message keeps changing. I started out as a Clinton supporter but as time went on, well, I haven't found the constancy and consistency that I see in Obama (and yes, I know he's not perfect!) and I'm willing to take a chance on him. Besides which, he took the time to read the Iraq War report and had the guts to go against popular opinion to speak out against invading Iraq.
    There is no way I'd vote for a Republican.

    April 8, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. Bryan from Michigan

    I cannot understand why people are still believing a single word Hillary says! She has proven over and over and over that she will do anything, say anything as long as the vote is in her favor. I DO NOT TRUST HER to take care of this country. With as much of a hidden agenda she has had with her campaign, this is definitely not the type of leader we need.

    She says something, then is called out on it, then changes her story, then moves on to another deceit, then is called out on it, then changes her story, then moves on to another deceit...etc.

    April 8, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Stephen

    There she goes again, saying she's always doing something better, quicker, etc. than Obama. This woman is so extremely divisive. I think people across the country see right through her empty rhetoric and lies more and more each day.

    Paraphrasing the wicked witch (Wizard of OZ): "Be gone Hillary, before I drop a house on you!"

    April 8, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. Patrick

    I've noticed by the comments on this website that Obama's supporters are the most vicious and hateful, by far, of any of the candidate's supports. Some of their comments about Hillary are downright chilling. I could never imagine talking about another human being like that–and from supporters of a candidate that is supposedly all about hope, change, and unity! If I hear the word "transcends" one more time I'll vomit. . . . just words.

    April 8, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Monica, Texas

    Hillary, Hillary, Hillary,...Is being true to form every time she or hers are caught she is quick include Obama into the mix. When will she accept responsibility for her own actions and quit trying change the focus? Own it and move on....

    April 8, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. jenn in St. Louis, MO

    What a liar. The NAFTA story was thoroughly debunked. Nice try, but having your campaign's head honcho (Mark Penn) getting paid to work both for you and against you is pretty hard to ignore. Of course, union/working people would be crazy to support HRC anyway, considering that she sat on Wal-Mart's Board of Directors for many union-busting years.

    April 8, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. Bond_Dallas

    Hillary can not see that the party doesn't want her. It is hard for her to believe that she is actually losing. It is so much harder for the favorite to accept defeat. I don't feel for her though, she knows she is riding dirty.

    April 8, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. jeremy

    of course it's not damaging. nothing HRC does is wrong. it's ALWAYS other people that mess things up.

    true to form hillary!!!

    OBAMA 2008

    April 8, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  12. Felly

    Mark Penn isn’t the only Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter on the wrong side of the Colombia trade agreement.

    The Democratic-leaning advocacy firm the Glover Park Group, former home to Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, signed a $40,000 per month contract with the government of Colombia in April of 2007 to promote the very agreement that Clinton now rails against on the presidential campaign trail.

    April 8, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. RT

    Its this kind of stuff from her that infuriates me! I don't know how she can even look herself in the mirrow each day. She is blatantly lying to the American Public right to all of our faces about Obama's advisor giving Canada the wink, wink. The Canadian Government publicly denounced that it ever happened and suggested it was Clinton's campaign that gave them the wink, wink about NAFTA. She is such a liar I can't stand it. What makes me so angry is that she takes ALL OF US FOR FOOLS! And unfortunately, there are a few "hangers-on" who still beleive the bile and misinformation she sspreads every day. Don't believe her folks!! I'm glad a lot of people are really starting to see her for what she really is........

    April 8, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Enough

    Enough with all the people who believe Obama is the answer to our nation's woes. This is not a likeability contest. We have serious economic issues and hope is not going to solve it. What we need is someone (a fighter) that is willing to take tough position to help push us through the current downturn in our ecomony. I do not see that in Obama, but I do in HRC. Let me remind all that it is global ecomony we are dealing with now and a feel good person is not going to cut it.

    As I see it, most Obama supporter have not experience real ecomony issues like we are going through now and thus lack good understanding of our current crisis. They are still calling home for Mom and Dad to send money for their pizza and weekend beer. You have to show your respect and appreciation for what the Clintons have done for this country. Clinton's fiscal responsibility led to a balance budget and surplus, which benefited all. That is exactly what we need now to get us out of the jam Bush have put us in. Stop the personal attacks on the Clintons, it is getting old.

    April 8, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. Ratgurl

    "....but Mr. Obama's representative told the Canadian government basically not to pay any attention to what Senator Obama was saying about NAFTA."

    Uh, correction: that was YOUR campaign spokesperson. How stupid do you think Americans are????

    April 8, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. lies, lies, lies

    Can't....tell...the...truth! Lying....too....easy.....

    I'm going obama 08, but I'm not sure I'll be able to vote for him if he chooses Hillary as his Veep.

    April 8, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. Doug, Florida

    Clinton, please go away. We don't want you nor need your lies.

    Go Away. Any woman not this one. PLEASE GO AWAY

    April 8, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    America beware...Hillary is a disaster ! She blames everyone but herself for her own misgivings!

    You know i sort of understand how Bill misbehaves sometimes..this woman is something else ....Bill probably has gone through hell being the spouse,probably why he has all these affairs!

    The lady was right ..she is a monster ...she cant obiviously form a team to lead this country well....

    Hillary is just bad news!!

    For all you Hillary supporters ..look hard and well, she is not a good person...her husband is a good person..one can easily tell when you meet him...But look what she makes him do....

    I shudder at the thought of Hillary being the leader of the free world ..we will all be her slaves!!

    please America think hard and deep !!-

    April 8, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. cnn rocks

    cnn thanks for exposing hillary lier clinton ac360 rocks in europe

    April 8, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Debbie

    Penn is still involved in the high level conference calls, meetings, and strategy planning for Hillary.

    Other than giving Penn's position a different name, nothing changed.

    April 8, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. sasha kando

    What tea are you drinking Hillary, when you claim that Penn does not speak for you? Chief strategist, and so many comments in all the news attributed to Penn. So many years of his being on Bill's and your payroll to "sell" both of you – AND HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR YOU?? I think you should get a life and live in the real world, instead of being in fantasy-land where you can make and say anything you want, regardless of the reality.

    April 8, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. paulie_nj

    I have only 1 thing to say ... Gore '08

    April 8, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. mike k

    What is different? Penn is still a behind-the-scenes advisor. And whereas the story regarding Obama's part-time advisor was disputed – even by the Canadian government. AND it turns out the Howard Ickes is on the Board and Howard Wolfson is employed (though on leave-of-absence) of two companies that are involved with free trade with the Colombian government.

    So here is the question, if Hillary is so against NAFTA, and if she has such sound judgment – then why are ANY of these people on her paid staff?

    This is the corruption that is the Clintons – they expect people to just accept what they say in spite of what is real.

    April 8, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Dude

    for being a woman, Ms. Clinton exemplifies the worst traits of the white, male-dominated, lying, swill merchant mentality of politicians... tenfold. Untrustworthy politicians transcend race, gender... etc. Disingenuous.

    April 8, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. John in Virgina

    She points fingers everywhere but at herself, and there are a few untruths in the article: namely what happened in the situation with Obama and Canada, and also Obama's stance on the revotes in FL and MI. The Democratic Party and the state legislatures could not come up with feasible plans to revote; that isn't Obama's fault. A mail in revote in Florida is against Florida law; that is not Obama's problem either. He said he will abide by the rules set for the party, end of discussion.

    April 8, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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