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. Chachi

    Any man that is running for the most important office in the free world should have to have high morals and standards if not he is wide open political black mail and more.
    Edward should not have run knowing this it shows that he only cares about his ego just like Obama having to denounce his past. No one can’t run away from your past that easy and the media is letting Obama of the hook specially CNN

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |

    Are you kidding me? Seriously, are you kidding me? Do people really believe crap like "Obama = demise of USA" said? Are there really people that stupid walking around? How do they support themselves?

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. SGJ, Chicago, IL

    What exactly is the definition of "American Roots"?

    I cant believe this guy get paid regardless of whether their client wins or not. Nice gig!

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Obama = Demise of USA

    Yes no American would post such ignorant drivel...
    What does Obama's pastor think?

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. David Armendale, SF, CA

    and the most disturbing aspect to this is – if this scare tactic is good enough for Clinton, it's good enough for McCain. These folks come prepared to play dirty.

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    The last sentence explains another reason Hillary would have lost against McCain...“Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.”

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. Warren

    The fact he doesn't have American roots is only part of the problem. He also doesn't have any real beliefs, his positions change with every new poll. He also doesn't have enough experience to lead the most powerful country on earth. The liberal media has again stuck us with a candidate who is too liberal, too weak and too wishy-washy to win.
    Thanks alot.
    McCain 2008
    Hillary 2012

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. Reasonable

    And Bush Jr and Senior dont have blatant (not conspiracy theory) ties to militant Islamic organizations? Who do you think we cozy up to buy our oil from!?


    The day that Americans who 'claim' to be 'more American' than those Americans that can live overseas, speak more then one language, and have relatives from other countries, is the day they realize that being American is as diverse as living in any other country in any part of the world.

    We need to get over ourselves.

    August 11, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Sean

    Obama = Demise of USA: Do you truly believe the things coming out of your mouth? If so, you should truly seek psychological help.

    August 11, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |



    August 11, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Bradley In Colorado

    Attn: "ginny bell"

    Hillary lost fair and square. Spare me your bellyaching. And I'd appreciate it if you could forward this memo to your fellow PUMA's.

    August 11, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Neni

    Its over get over it pliz...

    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. Mark Fox

    I applaud Sen. Clinton for refusing to use Mark Penn's strategy. It is only worthy of Karl Rove to try to use a strategy that has no bearing on issues as this.

    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Not Karl Rove

    Mark Penn was just one more reason Hillary will be considered a closet Republican in the history books. She couldn't manage her money, she couldn't contain the egocentric cads on her campaign and she couldn't come up with what SHE was about.

    And that says volumes about why6 she would have been a terrible president. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. Blah blah blah.

    She LOST.

    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. bryant

    if senator obama loses the presidential race then it is not because the republican party brought his demise. the clintons and those so-called hard core clintonites will have erroded the democratic base causing senator obama to lose. if he does lose and she seeks the white house in 4 years then I will campaign very hard for her opponent. the comments by wolfson and penn are hurting and dividing the party. they need to get over it. if they can't then I will not support hillary clinton even if she runs for dog catcher .

    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |

    To Obama=Demise of USA, you really need to stop watching television and making up stories you just wasted time blogging NON-SENSE and LIES and you know it! But you shouldn't be afraid, if you weren't afraid you wouldn't have to tell SUCH LIES!!!



    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |

    Mark Penn is a big, fat crook. I thought you all figured that out when he was working behind Hillary's back with the Columbians. He will make sure he continues to make millions and people like Hillary will continue to pay him. Just proves you don't have to be smart to be rich.

    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. smile!!!!!!

    Obama = Demise of USA.....the cleaners just called you...your white sheet and hood are ready to be picked up

    August 11, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Another comment for moderation

    To Dan, TX................You nailed it good.

    August 11, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It was clear Clinton created her own demise during her campaigning and those who don't recognize her campaign was in shambles from day one because she picked "cronies" instead of professionals in the areas she needed.

    August 11, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. AdamT

    Whats next for the clintons? The clinton legacy STOPS here this year, her image is tarnished beyond repair. The reason she lost in the primaries is becausse of a POOR campaign strategy...PERIOD!!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. bob

    dan, that "obama=demise of USA" is a pretty typical american, espeically down south. (see immigration debate)

    you see a lot of them. well at least i do.

    props to hillary for not stooping to penn's level. On the otherhand, he's right, she lost b/c she cant make the hard choices.

    August 11, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. applecrispbetty

    "Lacking roots" is the euphemism some Democrats use instead of admitting their racism. People like that should join the Repub party and not pretend to be Democrats.

    August 11, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Cyrus - NY

    To Ginny Bell and Obama = Demise of USA:

    Your ignorance is just astounding. If Obama is not American, then neither is anyone, or any children of immigrants. If you talk about Obama's "roots", I am sure you know that McCain was born in Panama, and not mainland US, right?

    Obama has ties to Hamas? Where do you get this from? IF that is true, then Bush/Rumsfield/Cheney had ties to Saddam Hussein, Noriega, and I can name a few more dictators around the world. At least Obama didn't go to Palestine to shake hands with Hamas leaders, like Rumsfield did with Saddam.

    Get a grip. If you don't want to vote for Obama, that's fine. Vote for whomever you like. Just stop the idiotic comments and fear mongering.

    August 11, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Trudy

    To Obama=Demise of USA...very interesting material you've reserched.
    I bet you're also qualified to advise our current lame duck President?
    If so, that explains the condition of our country now.

    I really do commend CNN for posting anyone's bizzare comments. Thank God the majority of your readers are more intelligent to pay attention to the folks who are truly mentally troubled.

    The internet is a fantastic form of communication, but it opens the doors for all types of kooks as well. God Bless America. I'm so looking forward to when Sen. Obama is our President.

    August 11, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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