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. Fed up in Texas

    ....and yet, you didn't fire your "friend" who went to Canada and told them to ignore what you were saying about NAFTA and you didn't fire your buddy Wright either. You are a Johnny Come Lately! You always think of things after-the-fact. It's like the person that you tell a joke too and 10 minutes later, they're like "Oh, I get it!"

    April 11, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. Now Obama says this What about his pastor


    April 11, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Kim, PA

    he would have hired Wright in his place....

    this is the NEXT "IF he had to make a decision..." after the fact.

    God knows what he'll do when he has to actually make a tough decision.
    cry maybe?

    April 11, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. lynn

    I agree Penn should have been fired, but Obama is not without poor judgment. Look at his relationship with his pastor of all these years. If he becomes President , there will be plenty of controversial topics for CNN to discuss on him too.

    April 11, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Kevin

    Don't overreact people. This is a hilarious way to use her own words back at her. One of the funny parts of politics.

    Right when the Rev Wright story was dying down, she comes out and says If I were in that church I would have walked out. So, he comes back and says similar statement about Mark Penn.

    It is pretty alarming that he still works for the campaign, just my honest opinion.

    April 11, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Democrat gone Republican.

    Yeah, just like he got rid of his pastor. He would fire the person only if it was in public headlines and had to do so for his campaign. The democrats are handing this election to the republicans, yet again. Democrat gone Republican.

    April 11, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Joanne

    Who really cares what Obama thinks? He has repeatedly shown bad judgment on several different occasions. We can safely use the term
    "the xerox man". You go, Hillary!

    April 11, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. RFB

    Yea, well he should have gotten rid of his minister years ago too. Don't throw stones unless you have nothing to be stoned about. OOPs, no pun intended.

    April 11, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Jack Hicks, Fort Myers

    If this is how he will manage his Presidency–it will be a dictatorship–with only one viewpoint. Quite a comment–from a candidate representing a political party with such DIVERSITY.

    April 11, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. D

    So he would have fired Penn for meeting with a foreign official once, but he wouldn't have left a church that preached anti-Americanism for 20 years?

    Oh, wait. He told Barbara Walters he would have "left the church" had Wright not resigned. He said this a week after he said he couldn't abandon Wright anymore than he could his "white grandmother."

    Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He is a hypocrite, and I hope the rest of the country will understand this before making a huge mistake in electing him.

    April 11, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. AJ, IL

    Unfortunately, the all the Rev. Wright haters only hate Wright (and therefore Obama) based on 3 or 4 10-second snipets from sermon or speeches played over and over again by the mainstream news media.

    This is unfair and judgemental. Even the main stream media has jumped on board as what was seen as only SEAN HANNITY talking points.

    Rev. Wright served in the US Marines whereas most of these Wright haters have never served this country.

    April 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. Raum

    Obama speaks the truth once again.

    April 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Texas

    Like he's one to talk!

    April 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Whatever

    Anyone notice how the stock market drops when camp Clinton takes a hit, but rises when Obama takes one.
    I know this is merely coincidence, but interesting nonetheless.

    April 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. mark

    Hillary is all laughs while My cousin has died In Iraq?

    I have started to pay attention to obama as a anti war student and I have switched my vote to Obama. He had opposed war in Iraq from the beggining anyway!

    April 11, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. Jim

    Hmmm, doesn't remove himself from a radical church, but he'd of removed Penn. This guy will say anything if he thinks you want to hear it.

    April 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. sarah

    If the positions were reversed and Clinton was ahead in delegates, votes and states, Obama would have conceded already from pressure from the DNC. The only reason Clinton is still in this is because she's the wife of a former President and she refuses to accept the numbers. The Clintons are hoping they can swing a back room deal with superdelegates (and maybe even pledged delegates) to take the nomination.

    Ferraro had it wrong. The only reason Clinton is still in this is because she's a woman. If she was a man, she'd be out and Obama would be the nominee.

    April 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. vic nashville,Tn

    You didn’t fired your staff who was talking Canadian government
    Give us break
    Hillary 08

    April 11, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. IAMWMD

    That will never happen in Camp Clinton because it's the right thing to do.

    Besides he's the Clintonistas' #1 attack dog who would possibly expose their lies even more if fired.

    Obama 08

    April 11, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Alice

    Maybe the reason Penn is still involved with the campaign is that HILLARY DOESN'T CARE THAT HE WAS TALKING WITH THE COLOMBIANS!

    She only cares that he "got caught."

    April 11, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. Anna, TX

    Will Mr. Obama please explain his connection with the terrorist Ayers. Why is he not being questioned by the media?

    April 11, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. karen, pa

    Isn't the entire Hillary campaign divorced from reality? Everytime Hillary goes to the black community to hand out "I'm sorry" for comments she supports, especially those of her husband, she demonstrates her tortured logic.

    April 11, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Michelle in Denver, CO

    It is so like Clinton to bring up things against Obama just to take the focus off herself. I'm getting really sick of it! I used to respect Clinton, but the longer this race goes on, the more and more I see her for who she really is and I cannot trust her.

    Does anyone else find it odd that she always says that every vote needs to be counted until the end to get everyone's voice heard, but then she says that all the smaller states that Obama has won don't really matter? She is hypocritical through and through and cannot be trusted.

    April 11, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. White Woman for Obama

    Just for the record..he never hired Rezko or his minister.

    April 11, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Adam

    There are a lot of people in your camp you should have fired.

    What about your friend Mr, Wright?? HELLO???????

    April 11, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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