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. arc, Lugano CH

    The next battle is for the voters of New York to take away Hillary’s senate seat.

    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Kelby in Houston

    Dear CNN,
    I hate you guys sometimes. This is one of those times. I have posted her many times and I have made no secret that I am going to vote for Barack Obama for President of The United States of America. I am doing everything I can to accomplish that goal. You are not helping. You are not supposed to help. But, you are not supposed to hurt either.
    This article, in no way, should be considered as "news". This is not new, nor is it newsworthy. At best, this is gossip. At worst, this is a coded message to the GOP giving them a new strategy, a angle that they can use to take Obama down, SINCE ALL OF THEIR PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS HAVE FAILED.
    By posting articles like this or broadcasting them on any of your news channels shows what position CNN has taken and where your loyalties lie.
    Do you remember Tim Russert? He was the best political reporter because he was unbiased. He reported evenly. And he came with current events and current information. You guys are talking about what Hillary could have done. Her part of the race is over and this information does not matter to the public. It matters to the GOP though.
    I am thoroughly disappointed in you all.

    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Southern view

    Actually, the strategy is un-American. We are a nation of people from other nations; a nation of diversity. I'm looking at our foundaton currency, the penny. Underneath the United States of America it says E Pluribus Unum, from many One.

    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Junkie

    I haven't seen any John McCain supporters on these blogs, onto people rabidly anti-Obama. Does anyone actually SUPPORT John McCain?

    People like "Obama = Demise of America" make me laugh. If John McCain is elected, it will demonstrate to the world that Americans have become so selfish and inward-looking that they will do anything not to be challenged.


    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. a southern bell for OBAMA




    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. gingerpeachy

    If Hillary picked the likes of Mark Penn and paid him 22 million dollars to run her campaign into the groud....we should all count ourselves licky she is NOT the Democratic nominee.

    Talk about bad judgement!!!

    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Ryan

    This guy *is* Karl Rove... so glad these people didn't win.

    August 11, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Greg, NY

    Obama = Demise of USA, if that is your real name...

    You know they have pills for that?

    August 11, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Naomi, Texas

    People... how American is GW Bush if he has authorized a war that has left America in deep debt, people less well off and arguably more hated than ever by the entire world? If you want to discuss values ask yourself what 'American Values' really means...

    August 11, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. kwesi

    New CNN Scheme, DIVIDE DEMS...REPUBS WIN!!! Keep it going CNN.

    August 11, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. O PUMA

    O pathetic "Obama = Demise of USA". are you from the united states or the HAMAS. get a life.

    August 11, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Naomi, Texas

    Do we really want the American values that look out for everyone but the American people?

    August 11, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Ray

    TO: Obama=Demise of USA

    I hope that your last post was a joke; if it wasn't, PLEASE do the rest of this country a favor and denounce your citizenship and leave...and take everyone who thinks that way with you. It's 2008...the U.S.A. no longer has the time or the patience to deal with those who want us to go back to the "good old days" of the 1950's. There's more than one race in this world...more than one religion...more than one gender...more than one country. GET USED TO IT!

    Obama '08!!

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. Simon

    Hawaii is a US state what's not "american" about it?

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Rich in Seattle

    So that would be what? If his mom is American then that would mean they are focusing on his dads roots. And that is what... The fact that he's from Africa makes him unamerican? Yeah, that would have been fine.

    Penn, thanks for reminding me why I dislike Hillary so much.

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Kelby in Houston

    Why didn't you tell us which magazine this article is going to be in? CITE YOUR SOURCES!

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Another comment for moderation

    Barack Obama IS America. He was born in the United States and has first hand knowledge of parts of the world many of us will never see due to his wonderful, educated mother who did not see color in people. We are in position to change the way the world views the US. (HYPOCRITICAL)

    OBAMA 08

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. TheTruthHurts

    Obama was right – NO DRAMA wins hands down.

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Zelda

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

    Do we want someone like this as president? The best person won.

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. California Gold

    Despite a nationwide campaign designed by morons and clowns and racists she pulled off quite a primary run. This is a testament to Hillary Clinton: a candidate embraced by millions of voters. This has nothing to do with Edwards supposedly diluting the vote or that feckless strategist and his proposed campaign strategy, which smacks of racism to me.

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. ya

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

    So Glad she isn't the candidate, 3 am phone call my butt.

    August 11, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX


    But the aftermath has been disturbing, very disturbing.

    "I'm gonna stamp me little feet and go home!"

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

    Please, the only true Americans are the Indians and you see what we did to them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! People need to learn and stop with the hate and division!

    August 11, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Willow, from Iowa

    We need someone in charge of our country that has a bit of international experience. Someone that doesn't believe that just because a person is different that they should be the enemy. McCain says anyone that is not democratic is "the enemy", and he will not have any diplomatic ties. This is the world, and everybody is different. And we need to be just as accepting of differences in our Politics as we are expected to be accepting of diversity in jr. High school and High school.

    And Demise of the USA, Hamas decided they didn't like him anymore, when they found out he liked Israel. Guess who is getting the money bundled into his candidacy from Arab nations? Yep, McCain!

    August 11, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. Nikki

    It's John Edwards's because we didn't make Obama anti-American's the democratic party's's because of the Florida/Michigan's the fault of the's because the media is's because Obama played the race's it's it's

    The Clintons are the laughing stock of U.S. politics. They are the exact cause of their demise.

    August 11, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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