WASHINGTON--Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams announced Sunday that Mark Penn was cut from his role as chief strategist of the campaign, with the decision to move out one of Clinton's most controversial advisors coming after he met with Columbia’s ambassador to the U.S. talk about a bi-lateral trade agreement.
Clinton has been against the Columbia trade deal; the Wall Street Journal broke the story of the Penn meeting, which he did wearing his hat as chief executive of Burson-Marstellar Worldwide. Penn has a long history advising Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It turned out that Penn’s firm had a $300,000, one-year contract with the Colombian Embassy since March, 2007. Columbia fired Penn after the WSJ story and on Sunday, Williams moved to limit Penn’s roll.
In a short announcement, Williams said his firm will continue to poll and advise the Clinton campaign. Pollster Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson, the communications chief, “will coordinate the campaign's strategic message team going forward,” Williams said.
On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who is backing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was asked by host Tim Russert if he thought the Clinton campaign should “fire Mark Penn?”
Rendell was hardly supportive of Penn.
“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."
From the Clinton campaign:
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.