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. Kevin

    Another reason why Hillary is on the same side as Rove and Bush. I don't want bigots in my party, so if you are going to be one, join the Republicans.

    August 11, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. DIZIZI31

    Anthing to keep Hillary in the news. And again another reason why Hillary didn't win. I would have won if this article was printed. This man is an idiot. Anyone who took American History knows Hawaii is part of the 50 states known as the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    August 11, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    Clinton is nothing but a distraction to the DEMs and the Obama campaign and nothing more. All these Coulda, shoulda, woulda, are doing is opening old wounds and salting them and that does no one in this America any scrap of good. I am still waiting for Geraldine Ferraro’s and Lanny Davis’s “coulda, shoulda, & woulda”s for Clinton before Aug 25th rolls around.

    August 11, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |

    Obama is going down!!!

    I really dislike him and all his hater zombies!

    This will be lost by him and him alone. What an empty suit!

    The American People do not want crooked Chicago Politics in the White House.

    August 11, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. MaggotBrain

    She should have fired this fool after his ties with Columbia came to light- You can't rail against NAFTA when your campaign manager just received $800,000 from the Columbian government.

    And THIS is the kind of advice he was giving? Wow-

    Why she kept him on her campaign is beyond me... Personally? I would have fired him for that hair-do

    August 11, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Marcus

    "Clinton never forced a resolution"

    "....Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices..."

    sounds like she would have made a great president with those qualities....

    lets be glad they sank her chances at the presidency, before the consequences of what she could have "sunk" due to indecisiveness
    and lack of leadership were even greater

    Obama '08, '12

    August 11, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. DR. YES

    more clinton garbage

    August 11, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. rightytighty

    Ha Ha!!

    August 11, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Obama is not interested in the welfare of the nation, he is only onterested in his own well being. He is however, American and this would have been sleazy.

    August 11, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Bob From Pittsburgh

    Ha Ha Ha Ha ,...

    Obama = Demise of USA, man...!! get a grip..

    You are worst than Karl Rove..

    ha ha ha...

    August 11, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Richard

    This reminds me of the article on "if Edwards had been nabbed earlier then Clinton would have won."

    Snore snore snore.

    Clinton's new motto is "Shoulda, coulda, woulda."

    That about sums up the Clinton whiners.

    August 11, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. laurie SD

    Mr. Penn..... what about all of us "military brats" that grew up in Hawaii, Japan, Germany, Italy, Azores, etc., etc.? Does that mean none of us is qualified to be president? It actually gives kids a greater understanding of people and cultures. Give me a freaking break.... You don't like Obama? OK. Fine, but use some sort of reasonable argument as to why he isn't cut out to be president. Your ignorance is showing.

    August 11, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Listen Up...

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

    WHEW! And she was ready to lead? This job is nothing but hard choices!

    August 11, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Turning the page

    Mark Penn is a despicable being.
    As a supporter of Barack Obama, I made a conscious decision to not contribute to retiring Hillary's Clinton's campaign debt specifically because most of that money is owed to Mark Penn. Man, am I glad I made that decision!

    Obama/Biden 08
    Obama/Bayh 08
    Obama/Sebelius 08
    Obama/Casey 08

    August 11, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Valerie

    And people actually believed that she would make an effective President? She can't even run her own campaign!

    August 11, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. Brian

    Wow... this "obama = demise of USA" commentor has some real issues to work out. How do you get on the Internet from that shed you live in deep in hills?

    August 11, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. DR. YES

    like she would have won with that lame tactic.penn and the rest of her campaign lost because of those same tactics.they would have lost by much more had they used this crap.

    August 11, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. fred

    CNN.......quit posting everyone's whining

    August 11, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Reality check #1

    He and his wife both are lacking in American values, look at their mentor and priest of 20 + years. How could anyone be fool enough to believe those beliefs were not shared by the Obamas? It only takes one time to get hit in the head with a hammer to know it hurts, not 20+ years.

    August 11, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Havoc

    "Obama=" what ties to what organization. Or are those just the rethug talking points for today?

    August 11, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Dem in Nebr

    Wow, Obama=Demise......psychotically paranoid, aren't you. Not to mention the complete lack of facts in your statement.

    August 11, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Blue California

    that's disgusting. I can't believe that's coming from another democrat.

    August 11, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. bert

    What an idiot.... America is the greatest melting pot there is, and it's no secrete our success stems from our free flowing diversity. We need to accept this as fact and move forward. Clinton ran a good race but she had too many idiot's like this guy around her preventing her best efforts. Obama, is all America and proven to be committed to what he believes in and he will make an outstanding President and we will be a greater Nation with many more opportunities because of his leadership and committment to his vision. Great leaders bring out the best in the people willing to follow!

    August 11, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Keith R.

    Clinton's only failure is that she was surrounded by bad campaign advisors.

    August 11, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Paris

    No wonder Hillary lost. Penn is an idiot!

    August 11, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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