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

Clinton says Penn controversy won’t be damaging

CNN

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. Chris in IL

    The bottomline is ALL of the candidates have lobbyists working for them… that means OBAMA as well… they work on the campaign while working their real jobs... when Obama makes cracks about not taking money from an Oil Company (which no candidate can do) or lobbyists… he is stretching the truth…

    Obama did not meet with Canada his advisor did in Chicago... very well known here but I guess a lot of you don't get that... Clinton never met with anyone and nothing can be confirmed other than hearsay that was put out by Obama's camp... NBC, CNN, etc... all looked into this situation and got it pretty accurate...

    Obama is no different from any of the other candidates… Start looking at the issues and facts… stop looking for reasons to not like either candidate… If you look at their track record… Obama voted the same way Clinton did in the Senate… In IL he really did not do much except vote over 150 times as present… the good thing about this primary is that all of you are starting to see how little experience Obama has…

    Another thing... Obama has won a lot of states that will not vote Democratic in the General... His claim that he can get Republicans to vote for him is a stretch just like McCain thinking he can get some Democrats... I find it hard to believe that Obama and some of you think that some of the states that have voted Republican for over 40 years are going to go to him... Obama's problem is that he can not carry the Democratic base... McCain is having the same problem that is why it is statistical tie... once McCain gets the conservative base he will be ahead of Obama and the Republicans are wanting Obama to win... he is the easier candidate to beat!!!

    Last point... George Bush had very little political experience before he became president... look at the mess we are in and he surrounded himself with smart people... my question to all of you is have we not learned from our mistakes???

    April 8, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Ken

    Again, the Clinton campaign spins and spins, know what happens when one spins too much, you get stuck! Just as usual, when the negative truth comes face to face with you, throw the attention to someone else. These people need to start their own party, the Diversion Party! Gawd, who stupid do they think we Americans are!?

    April 8, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. lola Planner, Houston, Texas

    That's right Hil, take the pressure off of yourself by pointing the finger right at Obama. What a 5-year-old!
    I'm voting for Nadar!

    April 8, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. sam

    Go Hillary!!!! We know that you know what you are doing. I hope you will win this election, else I have to vote for McCain!! I really don't think Obama knows what he is doing and will be a puppet at Washintong! I hope it is you, the next president. Else I have to make sure McCain wins, atleast I know he loves our county even though I don't agree with most of his views.

    April 8, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Dave

    too late, dingbat. we know how you worked it for the NAFTA deal for Bill. no reason for you to not like the Colombia deal. you'll say anything to get elected but your actions tell the true story, you globalist.

    April 8, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Cathy

    BUT Mark Penn is still an advisor in Clinton's campaign. Ok..so Penn doesn't have the title of top advisor...but he is still an advisor and plays a roll in her campaign.

    April 8, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. jobblyman

    Well done Hillary, you needed to lose that fat load. Obviously his strategy was not working well; as someone as unqualified, unpatriotic, and as weak as Obama could take the lead.

    WAKE UP AMERICA! DIDN’T YOU VOTE FOR AN EMPTY SUIT LAST TIME??

    How quickly you forget…

    April 8, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Frank, Missouri

    Sugar ~n~ Spice April 8th, 2008 9:55 am ET

    I am glad she got rid of him!!! He was killing her slowly. I will continue to support you Hillary.
    --------------------------------

    She is still clinging to Mark Penn ! She did NOT get rid of him, you know that ? Read the whole story about what she is 'doing' with him – all smoke and mirrors.

    April 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. Please don't keep me waiting in moderation.

    Dealt with it definitively?? He still works for you!

    April 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. sam

    Hey CNN, don't you agree that you like to post more anti-hillary comments than pro-Hillary. I was your #1 fan, and now I go home and watch movies or some other channels. I am so Over with you CNN. Please show some courage and post this on ok?

    April 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. David M

    What action did Hilary take?? I thought the spin was her chief strategist "voluntarily stepped down" AND the Clinton campaign indicated he would still be guiding campaing strategy as a consultant. More smoke and mirrors. If she was truly serious about taking "definitive action," she should have FIRED this guy who was TAKING MONEY to promote a position in oppostion to her publicly stated policy and removed him from her campaign entirely. How could she not know this guy was a paid lobbyist for the Columbians?

    April 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Gion

    I'm Canadian – this is just ridiculous. It was national news here that the Conservatives made the Goolsbee memo 5 days after his visit and misrepresented him, and was reported by the CBC later that it was Clintons staff who called Canada that started the whole NAFTAgate issue.

    Does she really want to bring this up again, when the facts show her in the wrong? is she crazy? Her trying to use NAFTagate is as dumb as trying to talk about Tuzla again.

    April 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  13. Beka

    OMG this is like watching Britney at the VMA's...Can she get anymore pathetic? The guy isnt even gone! He is still on the conference calls! She really is Bush in a pants suit...how can you Clinton supporters not see it? Either her loyalty boarders on total ignorance or Penn is blackmailing them!!!

    April 8, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  14. Chapman

    Mark Penn & his firm is STILL working for Clinton.
    The only thing that changed is his title. He will continue & indeed is continuing (as evidenced in his presence on a campaign conferrence call yesterday even after his "resignation" was announced).
    If anyone for one minute believes Penn hadn't informed the Clinton campaign of his role in lobbying for Columbia when he had a much larger financial stake in their campaign they're blind (which we know for sure @ least 28% of all People are).
    Same old Washington politics is NOT what we need & this is simply more proof of what we'll get w/ Clinton in the Whitehouse...
    The MSM owes US transparency on this story & it deserves accurate headlines that show Penn is STILL WORKING FOR THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN!!!

    April 8, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. Lee WV

    How can you not know that your top stratagist is dealing with Columbia?If she was president(Heaven forbid) would she know what members of her cabinet were up to.This is far more serious than the Canadian incident that she used against Obama to win Ohio and tie Texas.People of Pa really need to think about this.

    April 8, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. we wanh hillary, not mccain...screw him.

    Just because we're un-electable, we are still going to run with Nader on the ticket. You can't stop us America. So screw off...

    Hillary and Nader 2008.

    April 8, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. H. Webster

    What amazes me is that Penn was allowed to remain part of the campaign, even though he allegedly resigned. But then again, he has been allowed to be Chief Strategist all these months, when it is clear that he represents almost everything Hillary Clinton claims she is against.

    Obama's advisor who calls Hillary a "monster" (and immediately attempts to retract the statement) is gone within 24 hours. Hillary's cheif strategist continues his professional relationship with Blackwater, Colombia, etc., and he's still around, stripped of his title, but still around.

    To borrow words from Slick Willie, "Give me a Break."

    April 8, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Julia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

    First of all, regardless of what anyone says the Ohio story about the woman is not true…..My husband is an ER doctor and I am a nurse and we CANNOT refuse treatment to anyone in the ER because they can't pay some fee………It is agaisnt the law!, we cannot release anyone from the ER without stablizing them because they cant pay. That makes no sense. We dont even ask about payments in the ER, we send them a bill unless they give us there insurance information, which is something that is asked on the forms if they are able to fill them out at check in. If someone comes in dying the last thing we are asking is about money, we have to stablize them regardless…….SO IT IS A LIE for all you who know nothing about working in a hospital….Get off the bandwagon and do your own researching. The aunt of this women is a LIE and she is only trying to get her 5 minutes of fame! And that my friend is A CRYING SHAME!

    April 8, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. Tempered

    "Last point… George Bush had very little political experience before he became president… look at the mess we are in and he surrounded himself with smart people… my question to all of you is have we not learned from our mistakes???"

    Well, thank goodness that GWB had such smart, competent people surrounding him when Hurricane Katrina hit. Otherwise, it could have gotten *really* messy . . .

    Oh. Nevermind.

    April 8, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. H. Webster

    What amazes me is that Penn was allowed to remain part of the campaign, even though he allegedly resigned. But then again, he has been allowed to be Chief Strategist all these months, when it is clear that he represents almost everything Hillary Clinton claims she is against.

    Obama's advisor who calls Hillary a "monster" (and immediately attempts to retract the statement) is gone within 24 hours. Hillary's chief strategist continues his professional relationship with Blackwater, Colombia, etc., and he's still around, stripped of his title, but still around.

    To borrow words from Slick Willie, "Give me a Break."

    April 8, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  21. Janice

    The democrat situation right now is grave. The party is broken. If Obama wins the Clinton camp will foot stamp and say the election was stolen from her like the Gore/Bush incident. If Clinton wins people will say that Obama got ripped off. Either way it goes it will cast doubt. Unfortunately with the Clinton camp she will buy, steal, and lie to get votes making people wonder what has happened to their party. While she spouts urban legends and belittles her opponent; John McCain is working on being the next president. It is truly a shame that the American people will NEVER get the straight story and doubt will be forever cast on the democratic side of this election thoughout history.

    April 8, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Fla Sam

    Does Hillary think the American can't see through her game? Every time she gets busted (and the list is getting bigger by the day) she try’s to point her finger at Obama and say 'What about him???' I am so disgusted with her poor tactics of trying to avoid facing her screw up's!

    April 8, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Toni

    Each time Clinton campaign makes a mistake (and there are many lately), the first instinct is not to apologize to the American people but to attack the fellow Democrat opponet. Clintons only care about themselves. Mark Penn and the Clintons had and continue to have a very long, prosperous relationship dating back to the Clinton Presidency. The Clintons' NAFTA doublespeak will continue until the voters bring it to an end soon.

    April 8, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  24. gpo

    No campaign manager? No, this won't be a problem - not at all! This is just what we wanted! No sniper fire? Hey, proves I'm human, don't it! That lady actually had insurance? Whoops! Can't vet everything I say! Things are lookin' SWELL! I'm so excited to be here!

    Okay, Hillary.

    Any sane person (see, e.g., Mitt Romney) would have quit the race by now. Instead she is concocting theory after outlandish theory why she has the "right" to stay in. The woman - and the whole family - is psychotic. This is like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" meets "All the Presdient's men," as written by Edward Albee. It is too disturbing not to stare at slack-jawed. Doesn't it seem possible that she may actually injure herself or someone else in the final moments, when the realization dawns on her?

    April 8, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Linda

    Senator Clinton, you did not do anything! Penn quit, but is still on conference calls offering advice. This is the first time you are saying anything about the sittuation, days after it broke??? Also, you knew about this over a month ago.

    How nasty, to bring Senator Obama into a situation that has nothing to do with him. If you are going to talk about Canada and NAFTA, let's talk about your people also going their and speaking to them. As I recall, Obama's people were doing an interview where the statements were misconstrued.

    I don't want a President that says what she needs to and changes those statements depending on the situation. In your own words, you said that MI and FL would not count, but now that you need them it matters? Obama said that he would follow the rules of the DNC, will you? Oh, only if it suits your purpose.

    And giving 10M to your own foundation (Clinton Foundation) is a little suspect to me. Especially when you disperse that money as you go through primary states......

    Not my kind of President, in fact a bit worse than Bush. At least I know what I'm getting with him.

    April 8, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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