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. JOANN



    April 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. roger

    sure you would have, just like you set & listened to Rev. Wright for 20 years with his racial slurs...all of us are not so taken with Obama's smooth talk....

    April 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Wayne

    Obama. YOu have an opening to take the Clintons down. Bill has been paid by the Columbian government. Mark Penn is lobbying the Columbian government. Relate this to job losses, conflict of interest and how this is indicative of the status quo and the type of shady administration you can expect from the Clintons

    April 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Deb of RI

    Please Obama, give us a break...you should have stayed away from Wright and Meeks. Are we going to begin to go negative again?? Because if so, be prepared to take some heat also. That photo of Barack is creeping me out.

    April 11, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. Amber

    he is no better, so shut it Nobama

    April 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. ben

    Hilllary has this lying over and over and over. Just old people who does things over and over again and we expect a different thing. Change is what we need when we have this chance and it is hard for me to put my guard down . I will never rest till I see Obama through. I am not against Hillary but her character has put me off!

    April 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Mandi Locke

    There's nothing she can do now anyway. Too little too late for Hillary Clinton.

    April 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Vince

    Obama seems to be a follower rather that a leader. He follows Hillary Clintons lead every chance he gets. Agreeing with her when she agrees with something and disaggreeing with her when she disagrees on something. Never seems to tell the truth untill he`s caught in a lie Plays the race card every chance he gets and tries to blame Clinton for it. What is going with him ? Does anybody know ?

    April 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. April in Texas

    To note for those bringing up Rev Wright are reaching as it has nothing to do with a policy type issue. I am white and had the one who brought me to christianity did some questionable things but i couldnt throw him under a bus any more than most. Being brought to god over rules anything they did as I am blessed. Those who still wish to harp on that werent going to vote for Obama in the first place so it didnt hurt him. Some need to grow up and do research before they post it seems.

    Obama 08

    April 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. JP in NC

    I guess all Catholics should have left the church as a result of the molestation by some priest. America stop hiding behind the Wright issue. We go to church for God and fellowship not for a given pastor or preacher. It's ridiculous to leave a church for either of these sutuations. To do so shows a lack of faith. Obama and the Caholic members of the church's where young males were molested stood by their faith not there church leaders.

    April 11, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Rob - Canada

    I recall Clinton ads that contributed to the Ohio win about NAFTA which facts have been disputed by the Canadian gov't. This is by far much worse especially when you consider Mr. Bill's contribution.
    Then when asked about it HRC tosses up her hands and laughs – how do I answer this question?

    Oh ya this is the person you want answering that 3am phone call

    just a thought are the colombians helping finance her campaign with Bills 800K – or perhaps the US taxpayers with Mr. Bills 1m pension?

    Time to butter her – she's toast!

    April 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. carrie

    of course he woud fire mark penn
    he is a man of dignity
    and to all clit=onites who say they would vote for maccain
    pls get ready to do just that.
    without ur votes we have been winning,so please flee from a sinking ship to a drowning sheep
    obama is what the world needs

    April 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. NJ

    This is just retaliation to McCain saying he would fired on of Obama's aides, and Clinton saying she would have left Wright's Church.
    Plus, Obama is completely ignoring what one of his aides did regarding free trade, and that Obama didn't fire him until Obama was pressured to. If that's not the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is!

    April 11, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. She lost my vote

    I have lost all respect and trust in the Clinton's . A Clinton White House would be like George Bush on steroids.


    April 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. NC Primary MY TURN!

    You Clinton supporters will be pathetic until the end. You will follow her right off the cliff. No matter what you say about BO, Ms Clinton has way more baggage. You remind me of the Bush supporters who refuse to jump ship even when it is nearly sunk. You are stubborn fools and we will all pay for your foolishness.

    April 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Venus

    Yes! Tell them about how Hillary is getting paid while shipping jobs to Columbia! Let's talk about that $800,000 Bill Clinton got paid!!!
    Yes! Let's talk about this and let's get louder about it every day! Go Obama!

    April 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. becky

    How come Hillary is full of tragedies. I don't believe Billary any time no matter what. Give me obama anytime of the day.......
    Obama 08,12! and beyond

    April 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Stewart from North Carolina

    Well, Hillary can just giggle and laugh her way through that instead of answering again. Much better than telling another lie.

    April 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. sherry

    If you Americans get it wrong again and elect this guy, you will spend the next 4 years wondering how you could've been so stupid yet again. He has drug /sex problems and can never stoop too low. First Bush, now this clown. AMERICA PLEASE WAKE UP! HE'S A FAKE AND UNPATRIOTIC.

    HILLARY 08

    April 11, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  20. Carlo

    First of all, Powers resigned after her Hillary comments, and she wasn't even a paid staffer. Jeremiah Wright is retired, so whether or not he would have left the church is irrelevant. In addition, Obama gave money to the church; he WAS NOT paying Wright.

    The fact that Hillary keeps Penn on staff and allows her husband to continue to campaign for her shows that she believes that she is supposed to get a free ride for everything, and just blame the media if they hound her for it. This is the same person who is still harping on the Wright issue. It's her fault-SHE said during the supposed NAFTA gate that the media would be on it if it were her. SHE was the one who claimed that Wright "would not have been her pastor." Yet she believes that she is entitled to keep people on her staff after they do things that are questionable at the least.

    For the people who insist on supporting her, they say that supporters of a candidate are often mirror reflections of the people they support, which might explain why the entire world thinks that Americans are greedy, self-serving crooks. If Obama doesn't win, we will have missed out on perhaps the greatest opportunity we have ever had to show the world that we indeed are decent human beings.

    April 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. Tone

    Just like Geraldine Ferraro wasnt fired and is still helping, Penn wasnt fired and is still helping with the campaign as so are the people on the clinton campaign who circulated pictures of Obama in Tribal attire. If the opposition NAFTA is such a serious issue with hillary and she should have fired Penn, She's a hypocrite who is just all bark and no bite, in other words, her words are just lies.

    April 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Kareem from Hampton VA

    Ill say it once and Ill say it again....you cant choose your family...but you can choose your campaign manager...and if that campaign manager dealt in a deal that hurts american's pockets, showed my obvious double standard on trade, and showed that I didnt have the leadership to reprimand you fully...he would not have been my campaign manager...

    Thats how I answered a question that was asked directly to me...*annoying nod*

    Hillary '08! Karma...not speeches

    April 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. M Thomas

    OBAMA 08!!!!!

    Obama haters need to accept the fact that we will win!!! Hilary lovers will be sadly dissappointed. She is a compulsive liar and has systematically played the political game to her advantage! Watch and learn peeps...she has got to many fooled!!

    April 11, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. ben

    Wow! If all the hate mongers made any sense at all, we would have three candidates who not only should not be president,but should be put in jail!
    Of over three hundred million citizens, they claim we have selected the three worst to run for office.the world must be laughing at us.

    April 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. John

    Obama has futile trial to mask the NAFTA debacle he introduced at a debate to wrongfully discredit Hillary.After unmasking of his debacle,with the Canadian authorities,Obama went cold,and has left his supporters to try and explain how to fix the untruth.Well it will not work.The Colombia – NAFTA comparison is nothing but a trial to pull a fast one on the faces of Americans! You are fooling the wrong people!

    April 11, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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