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Mark Penn Resigns from Clinton Campaign

The Clinton campaign has announced:

After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as Chief Strategist of the Clinton Campaign; Mark, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign.

Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson will coordinate the campaign's strategic message team going forward.

Penn made news recently when it was revealed that he was acting as a consultant for the Colombian government over a free trade pact opposed by Sen. Clinton.

The Colombia government fired Penn's firm, Burson Marsteller, after Penn acknowledged and apologized for his actions.

Earlier today, during an appearance in NBC's MEET THE PRESS, Clinton supporter Pennsylvania Gov, Ed Rendell addressed the question of whether Penn should be fired.

MR. RUSSERT: Governor Rendell, should the Clinton campaign fire Mark Penn?

GOV. RENDELL: Well, there are a lot of issues in which you can raise that question, Tim. Yeah, I think you've got to make it very clear when you're someone who's a consultant who you're representing and who you're not representing. And I would hope that Mr. Penn, when he talked to the Colombians, made that clear. It doesn't sound that he--like he did, and that's something the campaign should take into question. But, you know, this business and Senator Obama, etc., look, I know that Hillary Clinton cares about the free trade issue because in 2004 I testified before a committee which she chaired--myself, Governor Granholm from Michigan, Governor Doyle from Wisconsin--about unfair trade practices, China manipulating currency and, and stealing intellectual property, and she was very, very strong on the need for free trade to be fair trade.

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Comments (3)

Clinton gave a great speech here in Oregon on Saturday morning. Under normal circumstances, a candidate of such quality should have been able to win. But the Clinton campaign managers really blew the race for Hillary by failing to have some strategy to continue after Super Tuesday, instead allowing the Obama campaign to compete in every state, picking up a string of 11 wins in row after Super Tuesday, leaving the Clinton campaign in a terrible mathematical position. And the Obama campaign also was far more skillful at fundraising as well.

Even with Clinton's wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island, leaving Obama wins in Vermont and the Texas caucus, Clinton only ended up with just 6 more delegates for the day than Obama, 208 to 202, which only pushed Obama closer to winning the nomination. Obama is now just 395 delegates short, with Clinton much farther back at 538 needed to win.

With some calls for Clinton to leave the race, campaign cash is starting to get tighter, as many donors simply don't want to donate to a candidate who may soon quit the race. All of this has only left Clinton in a poor position to effectively compete in the critical Pennsylvania contest, and allowing the Obama campaign to outspent Clinton by wide margin. Even a close finish in Pennsylvania by Obama will almost certainly finish off Clinton at this point. And Obama is expected to score big wins in North Carolina, Oregon and Montana, and could run strongly competitive in some other states as well. There is simply no mathematical way that Clinton would be able to win if such events fall into place like this.

Clinton was certainly a good enough candidate to win the nominnation. But her campaign managers simply made way too many critical errors and ruined her chances of her capturing the nomination. It doesn't really matter how many of Clinton's campaign staff leave for whatever reasons at this late point. Any effort at this point is really an effort of way too little, too late, although like the Oregon speech, Clinton is really at the top of game right now. But she really needed such an effort back after Super Tuesday. That's when this race was lost by her campaign managers.

Steve Crickmore:

I hope Clinton then has moved beyond her meme for about a month of not trusting anyone who gives a captivating speech. Paul, I don't think you should put all the blame on her campaign managers and strategists, though she probably is. She is 'the decider'. The candidate herself should set the course, and tone of the campaign, especially if she is aspiring to be the complete President from day One. Obama insisted on the way he wanted his campaign run and his stategists and managers have followed that, not the other way round, where for Hillary running her campaign with so many 'own goals' has been 'a project' in the works, just as her last real executive project, her disastrous healthcare reform in 93-94.

Since Lee's feature dealt with Clinton's campaign, my comment only dealt with that issue, Steve. I certainly agree with you that Clinton's problems do run far deeper than just her campaign organization. The Clintons seem to have a sort of "Nixon" quality that doesn't always offer the absolute truth to voters, although they are both highly skilled politicians. Like Nixon, both of the Clintons are very capable persons, yet they give many voters a real pause because they draw back from them because of trust issues.

Of course when Hillary was put in charge of a law office, it ended up in the Whitewater mess. And when she had a role in the White House Travel Office, "Travelgate" resulted. And certainly her failed health care mission was a real disaster. Hillary's absurd version of her Bosnia trip was another example of problems with embelishment. And even her Hillsboro speech had a some references that played a little loose with the facts as well. Hillary seems on the surface to be very skilled and intelligent, yet so far has had serious problems ensue when she was put in charge of something. So certainly this does raise some real serious questions about her own real leadership abilities and her ability to delegate responsibility as well. But she does give a good speech, such as her one in Hillsboro, Oregon this Saturday.

I suppose the voters need to not only evaluate her speech, but also her leadership record. And because so many voters have looked at her record, many have looked to another candidate to support instead this year. Certainly both Clinton and her campaign managers share some real blame issues for getting themselves into their own difficult position right now.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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