August 11th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Penn wanted to paint Obama as lacking ‘American roots’

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Mark Penn was Hillary Clinton's chief strategist."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist wanted to attack Sen. Barack Obama for lacking “American roots” during the Democratic primary battle, according to a magazine article set to come out next week.

“All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light. Save it for 2050,” Mark Penn, then Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, wrote in a memo written in March 2007, according to an article to be published in The Atlantic magazine.

“It also exposes a very strong weakness for him – his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot image America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values,” Penn wrote, according to the article written by Joshua Green.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    Boy, good thing Hillary isn't a RACIST or anything.... I'm SO GLAD SHE LOST

    August 11, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Abby

    Thank God they lost. Basically they were appealing the xenophobe racist in everyone. And they deserved what they got and the world would be the better for it.

    August 11, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. A.


    August 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Obama = Demise of USA

    Obviously he lacks American roots... You'll all see when he gets elected and we start allowing stonings of adulterers and thieves in city capitals.

    He already has ties to Hamas through his advisers... I mean seriously people, he has ties to a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. WHICH IS INTENT ON THE DESTRUCTION OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION.


    August 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Arkansas Undertaker

    This is one of the reasons why she lost. ALl the negative campaigning and the people she hired. They are all too devisive and negative.

    August 11, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Lesley

    "Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices" is exactly why she would not make a good presidential candidate. The right person won the nomination and in spite of negative campaigning from both McCain now and Hillary in the past, Obama will win in November.

    August 11, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Joe Kiloz

    And some of you wonder why Obama won, well this is one of the reasons: lack of coherent strategy coupled with lack of media examination of the "rising star," which helped to sell more newspapers and more to tune in to see who this guy Obama was.

    Well, now we don't know that much more, but we're certainly getting sick and tired of the media spin about him coupled with the lack of media examination of him.

    August 11, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Joe Unger

    And this sounds like it will be Obama's undoing also.
    The habit of avoiding hard choices. Witness Obama's now constant shifting and his caveating all he says. Obama should be way out in front of McCain but he is not.
    Make the hard choices, Obama. Not just to further your personal ambitions but for America.

    August 11, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Mike, TX

    America stands for individual liberty, the right to pursue happiness, limited government and respect for others.

    None of these are characters of Obama. His ideals are much similar to a totalitarian state where government exerts coercive power over virtually every aspect of individuals' lives.

    August 11, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. teri

    alot of people wants to see hillary as vp,
    not me I dont want her to be cause when obama goes down and he will I dont want her blamed for what he screws up

    August 11, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    No wonder Hillary lost! Her own advisors – including the Karl Rove wanna-be Mark Penn – were giving her dumb advise, some of which she took and to her credit some of which she didn't.
    The "fear, smear, mock and lie" strategy that Mark Penn was expousing to Hillary is best left to the neocons and repugs who support McLame – it will cost them the election...

    August 11, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. demwit

    So Hillary was indecisive.... That's every women’s prerogative.

    August 11, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. pat C.

    PS ....this person looks like a mad man! why are we being shown this crap?

    August 11, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. Jim Schimmer

    How sad and how pathetic.

    One has to stoop to a low to win the presidency.

    Decency and humilation are no longer existant.

    McSame is doing the exact same thing.

    August 11, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    No big surprise here!!!

    August 11, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. peace

    What a sleazy bunch of people on the Clinton team.

    No wonder she lost...

    pay off your own debt Hillary, I'm not letting my hard-earned money go to a loser like Mark Penn.

    August 11, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Informed Voter

    CNN, the Primaries is over .. enough already

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Alice Brinkley

    It is looking more and more like Obama does not have US parents; he has not produced a birth certificate to prove he has even one American parent. Yes, one could think Obama doesn't have American roots. Hillary was right all along.

    Poor Hillary, she probably won't even get a VP announcement via EMail as they will be sent to Obama supporters only.

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Norma

    American values and Culture are Obama's weakness?? Thats the stupidest thing i've ever heard. Apparently he has more values then Bill ever did. Mark Penn is the same thing as Carl Rove. Don't talk about the issues just attack him on personal things.

    No wonder her whole campaign sunk!!!

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Larry in Florida

    The attitude of Obama supporters scares the hell out of me. I wish she would have done something to beat Obama because The Obama supporters think they're greater then thou. Just read some of what they write. Scary people. They don't sound like they're ready to unite anything.

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Don for BHO

    Can the Clintons please go away, they simply refuse to cede the

    spotlight to their party's elected nominee, what attention loving...

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. arc, Lugnao CH

    This article brings into memory the coy empowered smirk on Hillary's face when she proclaimed that she would win the nomination through her Robert Kennedy Theory in August.

    Hillary shouldn't be allowed to speak at the convention. She is despicable.

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. mel

    Penn, just keep your mouth closed okay.

    August 11, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Puck

    “Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

    Thank the gods. If she avoided hard choices during the primaries,
    imagine which hard choices she would have avoided, or even worse,
    imagine which wrong choices she would have made had she made
    it all the way to the White House.

    If if's and but's were candy and nuts, it would be Christmas every day, Hillary.

    August 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    he should work for the low road express where he belongs.

    August 11, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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