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. U-S-hooray

    God Bless Barack Obama for having the strength and courage to take on America's nasty arrogant royal family.

    Hillary and Bill Clinton are both proven liars and hypocrites! Bill Clinton isn't even allowed to practice law anymore because he committed perjury.

    They should have a re-vote in Ohio now that we know Hillary Clinton LIED about her support of NAFTA, which was later revealed in her first lady papers.

    The Clintons are pure sleaze. America deserves better!

    April 11, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. Lou

    OK...so does she have to fire her husband too? Ha Ha...she is busted.

    April 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. George in indianapolis

    Machell Obama did not get $800,00.00 to support nafta which Clinton supported and NAFTA is a done deal by Bill and Billary. The Obama staffer was talking about something that is already in effect, not a deal that the canidate says she opposes but whoes husband is being opaid to support. Hmmm ...something not quite the same about this and hmmm somthing kinda smelly about it as well. Did Hillary step in it and then laugh it off?

    April 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Benjamin

    Oh sure, say anything Obama to get elected. Wasn't it you saying stuff about NAFTA while your campaign told Canada you were just trying to get votes, and were lying to gain support, and Canada shouldn't worry?

    April 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. April in Texas

    I am dumbfounded that Penn is still involved in any way with the Clinton campaign. So many conflicting reports such as the whitehouse transcripts that show the meetings for NAFTA and yet now she states shes against NAFTA. Then the Penn and Colombia CAFTA which again her own husband and formor top advisior are for where she is again claiming to be against. This is a major conflict of interest. I guess she didnt pay much attention to her staff and their resumes to verify they were veted. I have 109 million reasons and even more now not to vote for Hillary.

    Obama 08

    April 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. David

    What credibility does Obama have when his spiritual advisors are Wright and Meeks. Give me a break.

    April 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. @americans

    fire penn? or Billary lied and should be fired!

    April 11, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. Elle

    The first one that needed fired was Obamas pastor .

    April 11, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Madison , PA

    Go OBama...!!! Good job! She asked you to fired your adviser, she should do the same? How can she stay with her husband when she doesn't agree with him? I think this is a personnal choice... like you didn't agree with your Pastor but stays with him... Hillary go away

    April 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. Ned, NY

    I'm an Obama supporter and I think enough has been said. She let him go. Let's move on.

    April 11, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. Debbie,NJ

    Hillary can't serve her husand and this country if her husband opposes what this country wants for his own self gain. Listen up folks. If Hillary's opinion doesn't weigh much in her own household, what makes you think its going to weigh much in the WHite house? It says a lot when your own spouse said they would vote for you but they disagree with your policies. This isn't the only policy they disagree on. ANybody who thinks that a marriage is solid when you can't agree on major things is mistaken. The bible says how can 2 walk together if they don't agree. And if anybody thinks that her husband won't sway her like he did with NAFTA when she was in office you're mistaken.

    April 11, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. Ken in Dallas

    If these are the kinds of things that matter to voting decisions, those decisions are going to be badly made.

    I suppose it is a lot easier to make yourself into a finger-puppet to demagoguery than to really study policy issues, though, and Americans are the laziest thinkers in the world.

    April 11, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. Jenn

    Isn't that calling the Kettle black

    April 11, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Greg

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

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is politician-speak for "You're a liar."

    April 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    Hannity was at it again last night. We can give him an award for
    Obama bashing, every night. I guess Rove had the night off from
    his new job at Fox. And he is an employee and they give him a
    actual paycheck.

    April 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Doug, Florida

    Barack, not only Mark Penn but her Husband. She is a liar. She is for the trade deal with Columbia. But not for it when she is in OH and PA.

    Hillary is a Fraud. It time to stop voting for Crooked Politicians

    Obama 08 not Chelsea's MAMA

    April 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Denice, OH

    Dick Morris said Clinton folks are never fired. They work from the basement. Typical fo the Clintons. This is the kind of White House we will have.

    Barack will have problems too, no administration is without problems, but Hillary will bring baggage, and add to her baggage. Clintons are bad news, and I hope America will see this. We can not afford a war overseas and a war in the White House, as well.

    April 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. Former Obama Supporter

    Since Obama is going negative, you all Obama supporters better not complain when Hillary brings up Obama’s past. Fair is fair, right? You all seem to cry whenever Hillary shows Obama's true colors. But when Obama goes negative, you all are blind and say that he doesn't go negative. Give me a break.
    Hillary or McCain '08.

    April 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. HRClinton 2008


    April 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Barb Canada

    Tim in Atlanta....I keep hearing that story from the few who didn't follow it very well.......Clinton name was used in accident....the memo's were of Obama's adviser's support.......time to put that story to rest!

    April 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Peter

    I think they are dragging him into the mud. Watch out Barack!

    April 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Who cares?
    Mark Penn, Clinton, Obama.....
    Fact is...we need an open trade zone with the nations on our southern border. Right now...thanks to our Dumbocritically controlled congress–the agreement with Colomibia is entangled in dumbocratic politics–I'm sure President Chavez will be more than happy to supplant any promises the U.S. Government may have made–to sweeten the deal and expand his own expansionist/socialist agenda in South America.

    Our congress–and these candidates are asleep at the switch. Is this really the best that America has to offer us for the Presidency and government leadership?

    April 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. Tamika

    I CANNOT BELIEVE SHE IS STILL STICKING TO THE STORY THE THE OBAMA CAMP WAS SHADDY IN CANADA sorry for the CAPS but it is infruriating to know that the shaddiest of shady politicians are so blatantly shady!She knows darn well that because the media hasnt harped into the story of Clinton lying in Ohio about Barak and Canada.. she will just keep right on going with it! And CNN, if i may, since we are replaying events over
    and over because of the PA Primary downtime.. replay the story where the Canadian government made it clear who the NAFTA liar really was!!

    April 11, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. ABG

    Why would Obama be surprised? Two of his campaign people did not show the best judgement by their behavior.
    I think telling Canada not to worry about NAFTA because Obama's stance was political talk is much worse than a campaign person doing a business deal.
    I would still like to know why Rev. Wright suddenly resigned so Obama could stay at the church in Chicago? He should have left when Oprah did unless Rev. Wright's views are really his core beliefs.

    April 11, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Mack

    Obama sat up in a racist church for 20 years but yet he would have fired Penn. Yer Right!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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