WASHINGTON--Teamsters chief James Hoffa is making an issue of Mark Penn staying on with the Clinton campaign even though he was demoted from chief strategist. In a conference call focusing on Indiana, Hoffa said Clinton should "end his services with the campaign completely." While the call is taking place, the Clinton team is announcing they will have an Indiana call.
Hoffa is also saying that there is no comparison between Penn and Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago economics prof who is an Obama top advisor. Goolsbee met with a Canadian official at the consultate in Chicago and may--or may not have said that Obama's call to revisit NAFTA was merely campaign rhetoric. Since, then, the Obama campaign has muzzled Goolsbee but did not throw him out.
"No comparison," said Hoffa. Penn was paid to lobby.
But he did get off message. Hoffa called for Goolsbee to "make a statement" and "end this mystery about what happened."
This comes in the context of organized labor protesting the Colombia Free Trade Agreement President Bush is sending to Congress. Clinton and Obama oppose the deal. But Penn, in his role as honcho at the public affairs firm of Burson Marstellar, had a contract with the Columbians promoting the pact. After the Wall Street Journal exposed the contract, the Columbians fired Penn and Clinton knocked him down a few pegs. But it turns out he is still advising the campaign.