Mark Penn has been replaced today as chief strategist for Senator Clinton’s presidential campaign in light of the disclosure he was working with the Columbian government to help win congressional support for a trade pact that she opposes. Seems like he became a bit too greedy in working both sides of the fence and he really should have known better. In today’s environment where everything gets disclosed, like the Clinton family tax returns even though they didn’t want to release them, even the seemingly innocuous becomes important and looms large.
Mr. Penn conceded this activity was "an error in judgment." However, his polling firm will continue performing services for the campaign. Communications Director Howard Wolfson and pollster Geoff Garin will assume many of the duties assigned to Mr. Penn.
Mr. Garin’s appointment to the campaign before the Colombian revelations were a sign of the Clinton campaign’s unhappiness with Mr. Penn’s strategy and the results from it. Sen. Clinton opposes the U.S.-Columbia trade agreement, so I imagine they’re especially miffed about Mr. Penn’s dual roles in this affair. He seems to have been working at cross purposes with her beliefs while pocketing a hefty paycheck from her campaign.
Mr. Penn’s history with the Clinton’s date to 1996 when he was pollster and chief strategist for Mr. Clinton’s 1996 re-election. I think loyalty is a good thing but in this case it may have been a bit misplaced. Mr. Penn should have been replaced months ago and a new strategy formulated. You had to believe his job seemed too easy in just counting on Senator Clinton as the presumptive nominee. When that presumption turned out to be false, it was clear the campaign lacked any back up strategy or alternative way to proceed. Like a good running back, Sen. Obama saw the gaping hole and ran through it.