Controversial Mark Penn becoming controversy within Clinton campaign

Via Political Wire, found this Newsday piece on Hillary Clinton’s guru, Mark Penn. The article is titled “Clinton insiders question top aide’s approach.” This isn’t a negative attack from another campaign. Seems the union-busting CEO of Burson-Marsteller (profiled by Ari Berman in The Nation last May) is coming under fire from within the Hillary campaign. Okay, this is not the kind of press the Clinton team wants to be getting three weeks before the first caucus. These Clinton in-fighting articles have been popping up with more frequency. Ken Bazinet and Thomas DeFrank had one in the NY Daily News yesterday.

It really sounds like some of Clinton’s team are running their own negative campaign against Penn. It also sounds like he deserves the criticism. He’s taken Hillary from the inevitable nominee to a candidate facing serious obstacles to that nomination:

On the eve of the final Iowa debate before the Jan. 3 caucuses, Clinton campaign insiders are increasingly questioning the cautious, poll-driven approach taken by Mark Penn, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top political aide, sources familiar with the situation say.

With Clinton barely holding her own against Barack Obama and John Edwards in Iowa, dissatisfaction is growing with Penn, who some say has mistakenly run Clinton as a de facto incumbent.

“There are two people who have come up with this strategy — one Hillary Clinton and one Mark Penn,” said a top Clinton ally, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Mark wanted to run her, basically, for re-election, and we are seeing what happened.”

Said another Clinton camper: “The heat’s on Mark. … He’s got a lot of enemies.”

Penn didn’t respond to requests for comment. Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson downplayed the dissent.

Clinton’s aides insist that no shake-up is imminent and that Penn still has her ear. But they concede Bill Clinton has taken a more active behind-the-scenes role as her campaign flags.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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