Apr 6, 2008

Penn dumped on road to Pennsylvania

Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, has stepped down from the campaign after reports that he had lobbied for a trade agreement his boss had opposed.

From John Broder at the New York Times:

Mr. Penn, long a divisive figure within the Clinton camp, lost his pre-eminent position after revelations that he met with Colombia’s ambassador to the United States last Monday in his role as head of Burson-Marsteller. The Colombian government hired the lobbying firm last year under a $300,000 one-year contract to help secure passage of a bilateral trade treaty with the United States.

Mrs. Clinton strongly opposes the treaty, as do many Democrats in Congress and many American trade unions, who believe the treaty is unfair to American workers. Mrs. Clinton has also cited the Colombian government’s history of suppressing the labor union movement in that country.

Several American union leaders called for Mr. Penn’s dismissal on Friday and top officials within the Clinton campaign grumbled loudly that Mr. Penn had given the campaign a black eye at a critical moment, just two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary and the final series of contests that will likely decide the nomination.

The architect is gone but the question remains: Would Clinton have done better had she dumped Penn months ago?

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