Clinton Campaign Cuts Corporate Sleaze Mark Penn Loose
The professional demise of Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's pollster and top campaign strategist, has been predicted, expected, and demanded for several months now, but to no avail. Despite having lost the support of key Clinton supporters and staffers, despite questionable advice and tactics, and despite fairly obvious conflicts of interest, Penn maintained the confidence of the one person who mattered: the candidate.
It took longer than expected, but lobbying to pass a Colombian trade deal that Clinton opposes turned out to be the one controversy Penn couldn't spin out of. A day after the Colombian government fired Penn, Clinton decided to make a change, too.
Mark Penn, the pollster who has advised Bill and Hillary Clinton since 1996, stepped down under pressure on Sunday as the chief political strategist for Mrs. Clinton's struggling presidential campaign after his private business arrangements again clashed with her campaign positions. [ ... ]
Mr. Penn's shift -- he will continue to do some polling -- is the latest upheaval in a campaign that has seen its manager replaced, faced critical money shortages and has often lagged behind Senator Barack Obama of Illinois in a cohesive message and ground strategy. The move comes at a crucial juncture, just two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, which Mrs. Clinton needs to win to keep hope of her nomination alive.
Mr. Penn's work on the trade treaty with Colombia threatened to undercut Mrs. Clinton's support among the blue-collar voters who are a crucial part of her base, as well as call into question the sincerity of her populist economic message.