This evening the Hillary Clinton campaign put out a brief statement about the departure of Mark Penn as chief strategist for her campaign. Clinton campaign spokesperson Maggie Williams said, “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’s departure was hastened by revelations last week that he had met with the Columbian Ambassador to the U.S. to help shape the strategy to move the Columbia Free Trade agreement through Congress. Besides being Clinton’s chief strategist, Penn also is an executive for the public relations firm that was hired by the Columbian government to get the free trade deal through. Clinton has been on record as opposing the free trade deal, and Penn’s meeting has caused the campaign a weekend of trouble. Notice though, that Penn isn’t actually gone. He was only removed from his role, but will still stay around to do polling.
Mark Penn is a terrible campaign strategist. Barrack Obama should thank him for handing him the identity as the candidate for change. It was Penn’s idea that Clinton run on her mythical experience, as the incumbent in the race. It was Penn’s idea to run an issue based campaign during a year when voters in the Democratic Party are screaming for change. Penn totally got it wrong, and he should have been fired as soon as the campaign realized this. Unfortunately, the Clinton campaign didn’t realize this until it was much too late. When they finally acted it was to label Clinton as a change agent, whatever that is.
The Clinton campaign wants to avoid the impression that they are a campaign that is either going down the tubes or in turmoil, so they made this announcement quietly on a Sunday night. The reality is that the campaign has been in turmoil since she started losing primaries. When voters rejected her identity of experienced incumbent, she had no identity left. Penn and Clinton never seemed to realize that Democratic voters might want more from a candidate than a nostalgia tour. Mark Penn thought that he could play the same old political game, but this is a bad year to be a pro-establishment.
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