Election 2008

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Hillary Clinton announcing the departure of campaign adviser Mark Penn.

Ousting of Clinton Adviser Long Predicted

April 07, 2008 02:48 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
News of his negotiations with Colombian officials over a trade agreement Sen. Clinton opposes prompted the departure of polarizing adviser Mark Penn.

30-Second Summary

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Hillary Clinton asked the chief strategist of her presidential campaign, Mark Penn, to step down Sunday evening in response to a Wall Street Journal article citing a meeting he attended with the Colombian government in his role as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide.

The meeting had addressed promoting a free trade agreement that Clinton has publicly opposed. Penn’s firm was subsequently fired by the Colombian government after he called the meeting “an error in judgment.”

According to the Clinton campaign, Penn will stay on in an advising and polling position, though it is unclear how much authority he will retain.

Penn was a controversial figure within the Clinton campaign due to his high salary, gruff manner and insistence that he retain his private sector roles even while working for the campaign, and his job security has often been a source of debate.

Often at odds with other members of the Clinton staff, Penn denied being an integral part of the campaign following primary losses in late February even as staff members placed the blame at his feet.

Several observers, including former John Edwards adviser Joe Trippi, have publicly wondered why Penn’s dismissal did not come sooner.

Headline Links: Penn steps down

Background: Penn's career with the Clinton campaign

Reactions: Penn responds

Opinion & Analysis: A change in strategy?

Key Players: Mark Penn

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