April 11th, 2008
12:55 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: I would have fired Mark Penn

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/11/art.obamapresser.ap.jpg caption="Obama said Friday he would have fired Mark Penn outright."]
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) - Barack Obama told reporters Friday that had top Clinton strategist Mark Penn been on his staff, he would have removed him for having met with the Colombian government to discuss passing a proposed free trade agreement with the nation.

"Let me put it this way," the Illinois senator said. "I'm not surprised that Sen. Clinton found herself in an uncomfortable position as a consequence, and I know that if staff of mine were putting me in that kind of position I would get rid of them."

On the campaign trail Clinton has emphasized her opposition to any trade deal with Colombia.

Obama also added, "I think it was surprising to me that a high ranking, if not the highest ranking, member of Sen. Clinton's team would be engaged in business activities and lobbying that was directly contrary to a position that Sen. Clinton had taken."

Penn resigned from his role as chief strategist, but he has continued to play a role in the campaign.

Responding to the comments Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson criticized Obama for not taking similar action against an economic adviser who reportedly told Canadian officials that the Illinois senator's opposition to NAFTA was not as ardent as he was letting on.

"When Sen. Obama's top economic advisor told the Canadian government not to take his anti-NAFTA rhetoric seriously, he first denied that the meeting ever occurred, and when that proved false he took absolutely no action. It's good to know he has a higher standard for our campaign than his own," Carson said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Bill should be fired as her husband too for making 800,00 supporting the free trade deal!

    April 11, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. ltd1974

    Obama is so right. Matter of fact who has Hillary fired doing her dirty campaign? Hillary tricked Ohio and Texas about Nafta, and then all of a sudden Michigan and Florida votes matter. The joke is on you Hillary, and America now see the truth. GAME OVER


    April 11, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Daniel





    April 11, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Angelo

    Big difference is that Hillary actually was in the same position as Mark Penn and Bill Clinton. Only once she started planning to run for President has she changed her tune!

    There is a lot of proof in the ‘90s that she agreed that NAFTA was good. If interested, just look up the evidence!!!

    There is a video of Hillary saying in 1996 while touring New York’s garment district “EVERYONE is in favour of free trade””!!! Hillary also said, "NAFTA is proving its worth."

    Hillary said in 2004! “NAFTA has been good for New York and America!!!

    Hillary is caught in another big BOSNIA LIE!!!
    Now Hillary is using money that was received from this Columbia scandal.
    Something seriously wrong with how Hillary & Bill are handling this!
    This is a HUGE SCANDAL that Hillary can’t weasel her way out of!

    April 11, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. gerald strother

    Hillary should fired herself

    Hillary Clinton spoke at a November 1993 NAFTA meeting at which 120 were scheduled to attend; participants described it as a NAFTA cheering session capped by remarks from the first lady when the push was at its peak to get the deal approved. Two at the meeting, representing textile and apparel importers, told ABC News that Hillary Clinton was the highlight of the "100 percent pro-NAFTA event" and expressed not a "hint of waffling" on the deal.


    April 11, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Candi SC

    If you Hillary voters is lobbying against the truth, then so beit. But you guys don't like it when someone put the cards on the table and tell you straight forward that the cards you hold are false. Hillary should by right fire Mark Penn but she can't. There is so many dirty secrets in the Clinton campaign that would blow your head off if you knew. Remember sometimes we keep the hand that bites us instead of giving or firing that person. When the ball from the ceiling drops it will unviel a lot of unspoken, mispeak and god nows what the Clinton;s have lied about. At least she is consistent in her lying so what is neew. Obama is going to be target again for what reports asked him on Mark Penn. Remember Hillary supporters, this was the media reporters not the Obama campaign that sirred this pot of coffee.

    April 11, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. ltd1974

    This is another sign of bad judgement. Hillary! Experience means nothing without good judgment.

    April 11, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. Jamaal Pennslyvania

    How is it That Former President Clinton too 800,000 dollar from people that are pushing the free trade deal with Columbia and her Chief Strategist is lobbying hard for the Agreement but Hilary Supports it Yeah right Come on Hilary we do not believe you. If it was my campaign I would not have keep him on my team?

    April 11, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. HSNP

    I would have ditched Jeremiah Wright.

    I would have run screaming from Tony Rezko.

    I would have stayed one solar system away from Louis Farrakhan.

    I would shut up before the press realizes I can't walk on water.

    Shut up, Barack.

    April 11, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. tim

    Clinton supports as usual are pretty amusing in this post. This really isn't comparable to what allegedly occured on NAFTA & Canada.

    Obama should stay out of it though. What he's saying is true but its already obvious to anyone not drinking the Clinton kool aid. Him pointing it out isn't going to sway the people that have tuned him out already.

    April 11, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Richard

    Yep...he would have fired Penn like he would have walked out of that church if he would have been witnessed to any of the hate sermons in the 20 years he attended. Hmmmmm, really? Obama must think all voters have stupid written on their foreheads.

    April 11, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. socialism scares me

    I love all these handles, white person for Obama, this type of person for candidate... You have swayed my vote, I am now a white guy... who will vote completely opposite of 90% of CNN sheeples. Thanks.

    April 11, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Doug in Orlando, Fla

    Are you kidding me? Obama has done so much neg crap this takes the cake. Saying he would have fired penn is a laugh. He has never fired anyone. The foreign lady QUIT she wasn't fired, Tony Rezko, campaign fundraiser, arrested not fired, Rev Racist Wright, stepped down not fired (even when he know last year he made those hate filled comments). If the media would have done there job 6 months ago this would have been over along time ago. I hold the bias media responsible for the shame job done to the american people. I would never vote for a vote surpressor. If Hillary gets shafted and I do mean shafted by the media, People where I am from will definately be voting against Obama. So suck on that unelectable lolipop people.

    April 11, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  14. bill pike


    April 11, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. Barbara-California

    I am dumfounded that Bill Clinton was lobbying in Columbia, he a Past President, and now his wife who is running for President. Both now having their Hands in a development of a "sort of NAFTA" deal with Columbia.....come on people, can't you see these people are "not dealing with a full deck" when it comes to intelligence; why are they not focusing on the problems in the United States instead of South America?

    And further, why is Hillary so concerned with South America and the NAFTA deal if she is so opposed to it "at this moment in time?" Seems just months ago, while her husband was in office, that she was on the "NAFTA bandwagon" telling all of us citizens of the US that we should "embrace this wonderful idea of her husbands." what a mess they continue to be, and why can't the people who support those two take a hard look at both of their motives; as far as I am concerned, they both should go to jael for treason!

    April 11, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. The Corp

    He would have fired Penn, yet he embraces racial militants (Wright) & domestic terrorists (Ayers)? Wake up you progressives! And everyone thought the Clintons were unchecked liberals. I'm sure Bill & Hillary are now wondering what they halped create.

    April 11, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Jack

    McCain will be President. Barrack Osama will be on the South side of Chicago selling used cars and 22 " rims
    and that will be that.

    April 11, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. John

    Now and not later,sen. Obama should call for a press conference to strongly denounce the despicable act of fire burning the campaign office of Hillary Clinton.After the fire department investigation is complete,the act should be condemned.

    April 11, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Ca Native

    BOTH of these two are guilty of what they're charging the other. Every day these two fight, bicker, and spend money attacking each other John McCain raises money for the General Election and improves in the polls.

    April 11, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
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