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. Dillander

    By the way, white female Republican here. I am voting for Obama in the Indiana primary. Only viable canadate and I don't want to wait till November to cast my vote his way.

    One more time of showing us the double talk you have been famous for. Get your facts straight. No wait, then you would have nothing to say.

    April 8, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. Brad

    Eric , you have the paper that say's that Penn was promoting CAFTA on be half of the Clinton Campaign? Wasn't it a newspaper that printed the story about the great Wink, Wink which they had proof that Obama's economic adviser did meet with Canadian officials in Chicago and even had proof of the contents of the meeting. Does Obama camp have proof that it was Hillary or someone in her camp that met and said such things of this nature? This is just another spin of the truth that Obama-bots have always been able to do with NO proof what so ever other than there own stupid lies. Clinton's man did resign and his company is still working for the campaign not Penn himself. Obama hasn't cut ties with his own adviser let alone fire him. Hell he still loves his Preacher ( the nation hater ) . Just goes to show you who can make better choices fore the country. Lets see the proof and also the substance instead of the spin of the truth and dreams.

    April 8, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. BelovedMother

    When I was raising my children and when one of them got into trouble, if while I was questioning them about something that they did and they brought up their sister or brother name with a "what about what they did excuse" I would then give them a double punishment. If the only way you can look good is to try to make someone else look bad, that makes you look twice as bad. A woman especially a mother should be able to rise above that. This is about you HILLARY not BARACK.

    April 8, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. MarK

    This incident, combined with her misrepresenting her "bullet-ridden" arrival at that airport has pushed me over to Obama. This is a pre-curser to what her years as president would be like. I'm shocked at how unorganized the management of her campaign has been.

    April 8, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. Allison R.

    Of course this controversy won't affect the campaign–none of her controversies seem to. Besides, Penn went into this knowing he could likely be scapegoated. Please, you're going to suggest that the Clintons didn't know fully of the intentions of his firm? Yeah right–they knew and supported it just like NAFTA. I'm not personally against free trade–but I am against someone who only says she's against it when it means winning an election. Detestable.

    April 8, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  6. Linda

    Another LIE! It was HER people who told the Canadian people that, and that has been documented. Bill is very friendly with them, and was seen talking to them at that time.

    This woman is shameless and it is now becoming SCARY to think that she could be the leader of the United States!

    She needs to be called on this. I'm beginning to wonder if anything she says is the truth!

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Kim

    What is wrong with this woman??? She doesn't even know what is happening in her own campaign so how is she going to know enough to lead this country. I wish Obama had dealt with the Canada snafu more forcefully. He should have corrected that lying shrew and advised her that it was HER OWN CAMPAIGN that called Canada and told them to "take it with a grain of salt." Really are 1/2 of the Democrats so scared that they will continue to support this ridiculous excuse for a candidate?

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Chris in IL

    Obama supporters:

    You need to get a clue... his advisor met with Canada... the media actually spun that story to make it sound worse than what it was... Canada does not want anything to do with this and tried to down play the meeting... damage all ready done!!!

    Clinton's advisor did not meet or talk to the Canadian official... that story was from third hand information overheard outside a restaurant... Canadian News quickly corrected that story... once again they want nothing to do with this... CNN does not have to correct anything... they actually got that right!!!

    All I know is that everyone can obviously read the same story and come out with a different take... the blogs prove that... Obama and Clinton supporters prove that... this stuff needs to stop... you need to get the facts before making some of your statements!!!

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. Ft. Myers gal

    Wow, Hillary's response just turned me off. It was childish and catty. She is showing why she is not mentally fit to be commander-in-chief. I would love for a woman to be president, but in order to get respect, she have to have a demeanor that demands respect. Hillary is smart but she holds herself back from being a decent human being.

    Yes to a woman for President!
    No to Hillary!

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. Mia

    Huh? Penn was NOT representing the campaign? He was the top strategist. Accepting money from the Columbian government to promote NAFTA in Congress and simultaneously representing a presidential candidate that is AGAINST it IS a conflict of interests.

    I don't believe the spokesperson for the Obama campaign is making millions of dollars lobbying for the Columbian government.

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Lou

    There is a big difference in what Penn did...he was making a deal with columbia two days before Bush proposes a plan to open up trade there. It reeks of insider information. And we're supposed to believe Clinton knew nothing about it. Ha Ha

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. fedup

    I don't understand this- everytime Billary get into something- they try to bring Obama into it? Why isn't the Clintons Pastor being talked about? I guess him liking little children isn't an issue.

    April 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. chris

    So Eric I guest they didn't dwell on the Jeremiah Wright story. What palnet are you on. Just face it Hillary is a LIAR.

    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. mike mullin london ontario canada

    As a Canadian proud of his heritage and a long time admirer of the United States I must confess my absolute dismay at the complete decline of the US as a bona fide superpower and the impact on the rest of us in the world. You no longer dominate economically,you cannot project enough combat power to reinforce Afghanistan where Canadian troops are dying in the worst hotspot there. My respect for the American people is waning. The issues I have just described are the result of failed leadership. Now you have potentially a leader who reminds me of our greatest Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Are the American people entirely stupid? After 8 years of secretive government and disastrous foreign policy and domestic disasters the American people are looking at Hilary Clinton as potentially the next president when she represents even more secrecy and dishonesty than Bush. Barack Obama could make ahuge difference. Clinton represents a further decline . She is completely unprincipled and given a choice would rather entirely destroy the democratic party than lose. What has happened to you people?

    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. Eric

    Everyone person on has stated my views on the queen....shut up and leave the race. You are a joke at my work now, just a joke. OBAMA all the way in 08

    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. NickNas

    Thats right Hillary we are ALL HillaZombies and we cannot think for ourselves. WE WILL let you tell us day is night and fire is cold and we will believe you because we are your loyal followers.


    What is so sad there are still people who DO think that way about her.

    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  17. Stephen

    There is documented proof (the memo) that Obama's advisor met with the Canadians. There is no proof that any of Hillary's advisors met with Canadians.

    Obama supporters should learn the facts and stop believing hear say

    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  18. Howard


    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. rick

    Funny thing about Hillary: when she gets defensive, all she ever does it try to deflect blame to Obama. Obama, on the other hand, never mentions any of the things that Clinton has done wrong. Who's running the positive campaign here? And, who's winning because of it?

    April 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. temmydizzle

    I think it's about time hillary shuts up and stop comparing her silly moves to that of Obama. Her campaign strategy is so weak and all she depends on is other people's weakness and that's is if they have any. How many times has Obama made comments about all the lies and exagerations she has told in recent times. She is going to be another type of disaster if allowed into the white house because she is too desperate. Shame on you Billary>>>

    April 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Rosemary Craig

    The press bias against Senator Clinton has been unmerciful.

    April 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. JLS

    She said "we took action". The question is what action??? Mark Penn is still working for her, poll taking, and giving advise. Also in regards to both Michigan and Florida, she was right there with everyone else saying loud and clear those primaries would not count. Now SHE wants them to. Do you think she would still be beating this drum, if Obama had been the leading vote getter, as well as the only one on the ballot in Michigan?
    Anyone else sensing a pattern here? If she is ready from day one, let's hope that day never comes....

    April 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. DM Arlington, TX

    After reviewing Sen. Hillary Lying Can Trust Clinton, continue to reply wit n more lies. John Robert's ask her directly why is she still paying Penn, who she kept on her staff she injected sen. Obama in the conversation because she did not want to say she agrees with Penn on the Columbian Trade Deal.

    America, view this audio she lies as well as Bill Clinton lies.

    She keep playing the role of the victim of an abusive husband who kept having affairs on her. We can not fall for her story telling lies anymore. PA must send her a message and tell her to go home.

    April 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. Phil T.

    A willing suspension of all disbelief.

    This woman could put a spin on the Rock of Gibraltar.


    April 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. DemcracyNow2008

    CNN good going you ask Clinton herself if Penns dealing with Columbia will hurt her campaign .CNN you should go after Clinton not let her get away with this nor Penn who is still according to Maggie Williams consulting her campaign .
    If one resigns then how come he is allowed to still consult the Clinton campaign?
    Clinton is lying ,just like her connection with the Canadian Government that her campaign denied ever happened.
    We do not need a Liar in Washington .
    I do not trust liars but I will vote for Change and that means Senator Barack Obama .
    Obama All The Way 08

    April 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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