WASHINGTON—The Clinton campaign handled two storylines in its just concluded conference call: Dealing with Mark Penn’s role on the Clinton team (turns out to still be pretty substantial, but still a demotion) and trying to push Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee back in the spotlight with the unwitting help of Obama backer Teamster chief James Hoffa.
Penn was like an “editor-in-chief,” Clinton communications ace Howard Wolfson said. Now he is important, but not in charge.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y,) deflected her Penn problem by bringing up Goolsbee and the jam he got Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in late February/early March before the Ohio and Texas votes. At the time, the Obama camp made matters worse by denying at first that Goolsbee ever met with a Canadian official.
“Well, you know, I think that I took appropriate action with respect to my campaign when there was a conflict with what I have said. I notice that Senator Obama has never said or done anything with respect to his campaign representative who went to a foreign government and certainly gave a very different story about where Senator Obama stood than what Senator Obama had been stating in the campaign,” Clinton said.
“I think what not only voters but all Americans have to look at is where we stand and where we've always stood, and what we believe in and what we would do as president. And I feel very comfortable that, as we saw in Texas and Ohio, that's what voters are interested in. They're not so interested in all of the back-and-forth and the inside stories as they are where do you stand and what do you believe and what will you do as president.
Clinton communications chief Howard Wolfson took advantage of the opening Obama backer and Teamster leader James Hoffa just gave them. In an Obama conference call that preceded, Hoffa got off message in calling for Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee to come clean and say what happened when he met with a Canadian official to talk about NAFTA. Goolsbee gave one interview to an AP reporter and then was muzzled by the Obama campaign.
Hoffa “makes a very powerful point,” Wolfson said, careful to be very respectful to Hoffa. ‘’When it is that they are going to clarify what it is that Austan Goolsbee said?’
Wolfson was asked about the role Penn really has. Penn plays “a continuing role in strategy. There is clearly a difference between a senior strategist and somebody who is playing a role in strategy and I think most people understand that.”
What is the difference?
“The difference between the editor –in-chief of your newspaper and somebody who plays an important role at the newspaper but isn’t in charge. ….somebody who is playing the key role and somebody who is playing an important role but playing that role with other people.”
He said he is not going to answer who is on campaign strategy calls…
“I am trying to be very clear on this that he is going to continue to participate in this campaign in formulating strategy and has done so since Sunday.”
"I would ask, pursuant to that,…calls into question why Sen. Obama took no action when his chief economic policy advisor was found to be saying something very different about his postion on NAFATA than he was telling the people of Ohio," Wolfson said.