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. Report the Truth CNN

    Please report accurately on the Canadian NAFTA controversery . Do we have to rely on the Canadian government again to tell us it WAS NOT Obama's representative who said DON'T WORRY ABOUT NAFTA...IT WAS HILLARY's campaign. It was also proven Bill Clinton was in Canada at the time.

    With all the resources available to you CNN and the Canadian government coming out in DEFENSE of Obama...you still refuse to report that story accurately. Why?

    April 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. Kansas for Obama

    I really do not understand Hillary Clinton or her logic anymore. SHE just doesn't make any sense at all.

    She's nuts.

    April 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. Blake

    Come together and stop fighting. Play nice until June. Talk about what matters and salvage broken relationships before we are stuck with the same McCain. Please both sides realize that the meat of the discussion is exactly the same. BOTH SIDES ARE ALMOST MIRROR IMAGES. Given a choice I am all for Obama. But I am not for disention. They should both come together and begin to ttack what is going to put us in jeopardy. John McCain. This man scares me. Please no more attacks aimed at each other. Both sides tlak about how incompetant McCain is and may the best McCain blaster win come June 6th.

    April 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. TF

    "Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies" from Fleetwood Mac should be her new theme song. At least that's the song that plays in my head everytime I hear her talk.

    April 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. Roger

    oops! Didn't mean to say that twice. Sometimes it looks like my message isn't submitted.

    April 8, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Ilona Proud Canadian

    There she goes again!!!

    Sen. Clinton would not recognize the truth if it jumped up and bit her on the nose!!!!

    Sen. Clinton's aide was responsible for the Canadian ...wink..wink.
    Bill Clinton was in Canada just two days before they made the huge mis-statement about Sen. Obama's aide, they turned this around and blamed Sen. Obama!!!

    How do you think they knew about this? They will do and say anything to get back in the white house! If this should happen they will each (Chelsea too) be able to, once again, make $52million or more in six years for their overpriced speeches.

    CNN I am wondering why we are not hearing who paid Bill Clinton $52million for giving these speeches.

    Why does Sen. Clinton try to put blinkers on the American people?
    Do you folks really believe that she did not know about the Penn free trade deal? Clintonites keep saying what a smart woman she is, how can you say this in one breath, and then in the next breath, turn around and say she did not know what her chief strategist was working on. Please give me a break! You bet she knew! But Penn did the deed in the background , so that Sen. Clinton could continue to say that she does/did not approve this deal.

    April 8, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. LSU Tigers for Obama

    Is she still attacking Obama??? This is not even about him. Why is it that when someone asks her a question about what she has done, she throws Obama's name in it?!? Obama has not even criticized her about Penn at all, unlike her demoralizing behavior in Ohio when Obama was in a similar situation. She still hasn't learned how to take the moral high ground. Just keep up with your kitchen sink strategy Clinton! What goes around comes around Hill, remember that!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. mphillips

    Yes:

    And there are some of us out here who are STILL waiting for CNN to correct its part in (again) breathlessly repeating the lie about Obama's campaign advisor, NAFTA and Canada.

    April 8, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. vic nashville,Tn

    I came to know about Obama in 2004 In J Kerry campaign time he impressed me lot. Last December Obama was my candidate. But now my vote for Hillary if not Mc Cain

    When news about Obama. C.Rice ,Oprah and Powell I love to read

    Obama joined with Rev. Jeremiah Wright to build his political carrier

    Obama used Martin Luther king speech for his political carrier but he is keeping distance from MLK followers because he wants be come president
    CNN is better than Obama last weekend CNN air 36% of the their time to respect MLK
    Obama proved me he is another politician

    We will vote for experience only Hillary 08

    April 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. Tim

    CNN should set the record straight. It was Senator Clinton's people that went to the Canadian Gov't. Concerning this issue, it is much worse that the supposed canadian conversation. This is clearly a case of talking out of both sides of the Clinton campaigns mouth. It speaks to Senator Clinton's judgement. This is clearly a serious issue that will not only have a negative impact on her canpaign now but will be an issue that could cost her the race in Novebmer if she were to win the nomination. Although she will not win the Democratic nonimation.

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Emma

    I am so sick of Hillary Clinton's deceptive lying. Why does she always qualify her actions against what Senator Obama did or didn't do? She can't compare herself to him..........changing the rules, lying and oh did I say she is a liar?

    I have lost a great deal of respect for her and her campaign style. I as a Democractic voter will probably cheer when I hear her say she is out of the race. Even if she manages to steal the nomination, hear this, I WILL NEVER EVER VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON. I will stay home.............and every Democrat who will rely on the Democratic ticket for their future political success will definitely have one less vote.....my vote is not for sale for any price and that includes getting a Democrat in the White House!

    April 8, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. lucyna

    The ground is shaking under her feet and she is losing control, so she needs to blame someone else to clear her name. That's pathetic. I used to have a great respect for her but for the past 2-3 months she showed her true color and makes my stomach turn up side down listening to her nonsense. How come her supporters can be co blind? Who are those people? Don't they use their own brain to see what this woman is about? Are they on drugs or are they that stupid? Unbelievable!

    April 8, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Char

    Hillary is decisive and that's what we need. A president who will act when needed before things gets out of hand. Obama hesitate too much and his presidency will be too little too late just like now......inexperienced!. Way to go HIllary! Congrats to your up coming wins in PA, IN, KY, WV, OR and the amazing close race in NC.

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. LSU Tigers for Obama

    Is she still attacking Obama??? This is not even about him. Why is it that when someone asks her a question about what she has done, she throws Obama's name in it?!? Obama has not even criticized her about Penn at all, unlike her demoralizing behavior in Ohio when Obama was in a similar situation. She still hasn't learned how to take the moral high ground. Just keep up with your kitchen sink strategy Clinton! What goes around comes around Hill, remember that!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. Sue from Ga.

    I am wondering if anyone noticed that instead of addressing the issue of Mr. Penn, Sen. Clinton automatically began finger pointing at Obama regarding his NAFTA "gaffe" that in reality was not his "gaffe", but her own campaign? Also, take a look at Politico.com this morning. Howard Wolfson is a former partner in Clover Park group. although he has resigned from his active position, he still has and equity interest in the company, which is now making $40,000.00 per month lobbying for CAFTA. This is a primary example of the Clinton spin, not taking responsibility for her own campaign, and trying to deflect it back to Obama. Everyone was waiting for this to happen, and she stays true to form. I do hope the good people of Pa. realize she only wants your vote. She has yet to follow through on her campaign promises to her own state regarding bringing new jobs to New York. As a matter of fact, there have been tremendous job losses in her own Senatoral area. This is a person who cannot be trusted with the Presidency. Her transparency is next to none.

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Steve B, NewYork. NY

    Hillary ...waaaaaaaaaaaa ..I'm staying in the race.
    Barack : Cool calm and collected.
    Hillary: waaaaaaaaa .. the press is against me.
    Barack : Cool calm and collected.
    Hillary: waaaaa waaaaaa he's unelectable
    Barack : cool calm and presidential.
    Hillary; Shame on you Barack !waaaaaaaa
    Barack : cool cool calm and presidential.
    Hillary: Rev. Wright ...white's won't vote for him.
    Barack : presumptive Democratic pesidential nominee
    Hillary: waaaaaa .. I'm staying to the end
    Barack ; Democratic Nominee for president.
    Hillary :I'll use the Lieberman option.
    Hillary: waaaaaaa .. he will lose to McCain waaaa
    Barack ; PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES !
    Hillary

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. trellskig

    No matter what your vices are about either candidate, we need to vote Dem. in 08 and bring the troops home from this unnecessary war in Iraq. Your sons and daughters lives are at stake; in addition, they are dying for no reason.

    Dems for the White House!

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Tim

    C'mon! ENOUGH ALREADY Hillary! You have shown that you can't tell the truth, embellish the facts, pad your resume, you can't manage your campaign budget (5 million dollar "loan") and you tell the American people what you think they wan't to hear just to get votes. You have "fired" or people have quit your campaign staff. I wonder what your Presidential staff would be like. I wonder how you would run the country's budget. Your tax records show one of your charitable contributions to be to the "clinton foundation"! I'm glad you know what it's like to be poor and you (and Bill) made over 100 million dollars over the past seven years?! tell you what, when you've made as little as most of us out here (I've made a total of $473,000 dollars – SINCE 1985!!! ) then you can say you understand the poor. I'm sure you don't even comprehend what it's like to do without things just so you can pay $80 plus bucks to fill up your car, and then drive sparingly to make it last.

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Jan

    I think it rather funny, Penn did not represent Clinton, but Obama's
    advisor represented Obama with Canada, nothing was done with
    him.

    Stop the bias against Clinton

    HILLARY IS GOING TO WIN.

    April 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. Yotin

    Hillary put this in its correct perspective. There's a double standard in the press or media. The contrast between this flap and that of the Obama Nafta flap is glaring.
    Hillary's stand on the Colombia trade is clear and consistent. And there's no issue here of judgment. She handled the matter correctly and timely, even though Mr. Penn represented his PR firm in the meeting and not that of the campaign. In effect, she clearly articulated what her stand is.
    Obama's adviser clearly represented his campaign and their meeting talked about his campaign and Mr. Obama didn't take any action than denying, at first, the meeting took place.
    I'm looking for CNN and the media to contrast the 2 events and inform the voters.

    April 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Amy in Iowa

    This is not Obama. This is about Hillary Clinton and her lies about NAFTA. She supported it. She supported Wal-Mart and sending jobs overseas. She lied to voters in Ohio. But the PA voters need to see the fault for the job loss lies with the Clintons.

    Don't believe a word out of the Clintons mouths. Their history should have taught the voters this. They want a third term for Bill. They want to make more money from their investors and business interests. Not this time Hillary.

    April 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. In Chicago

    Billary needs to focus on cleaning up her own messes rather than dragging Obama's in the dirt to cover her own. good grief

    April 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Forks Township, PA

    Clinton's campaign is stocked with lobbyists hawking their agendas with their candidate. Penn is no better than Chenney, but at least Chenney resigned from his private business interests before serving in office. Penn must leave now.

    April 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. Nate in Mpls

    Google: obama nafta canada truth

    Click on the Newsweek link.

    Hillary shouldn't be let off the hook for perpetuating the lies about Obama/Canada/NAFTA when her campaign was accused of the exact same thing around the exact same time.

    Both camps deny it is true about their camp. Canada says it is not true.

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt but she continually is caught lying about herself. When she lies about other people, it just further illustrates the lack of ethics and integrity.

    Is there any wonder why people doubt politicians? Could she lie more if she tried?

    April 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. Go Hillary

    Michigan and Florida should be counted - I wonder why BO does not want them counted??

    April 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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