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Clinton: Penn flap won't hurt us

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Clinton says the Mark Penn controversy won't damage her campaign
  • Penn met with Colombia ambassador about trade pact last week
  • Clinton: I dealt with the matter better than Obama did in a similar situation
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From Alexander Mooney
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton predicted Tuesday the recent controversy surrounding her top adviser's meeting with the Colombian government wouldn't prove damaging to her campaign.

Mark Penn will continue to advise Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"I don't think [it will hurt], because I think people want to know where I stand," Clinton said on CNN's American Morning.

Clinton's former chief strategist, Mark Penn, resigned over the weekend after news surfaced he had met with the Colombian ambassador. Penn said he met with the ambassador not as Clinton's adviser but as CEO of his P.R. firm, though he admitted the subject of the meeting was the trade bill.

The Clinton campaign Monday said Penn will continue to advise the Clinton in her run for the White House.

Clinton reiterated her opposition to a free trade agreement with the Colombians in Tuesday's interview and suggested she dealt with the matter more definitively than Sen. Barack Obama did when he faced a similar situation. Video Watch the interview »

"Contrast that to Sen. Obama's campaign where, as far as I know, nothing was ever done when one of his top economic advisers representing the campaign -- unlike Mr. Penn who was not representing the campaign -- but Mr. Obama's representative told the Canadian government basically not to pay any attention to what Sen. Obama was saying about NAFTA."

At the time of that controversy, Clinton sharply criticized Obama, suggesting he was being disingenuous about his opposition on free trade, and went on to win Ohio by double-digits. Video Watch how the Penn flap may play out in Pennsylvania »

In the days between the first reports of Penn's meeting and his resignation Sunday night, Penn was conspicuously short of defenders from the Clinton camp, some of whom had been openly anxious to see his exit for months.

The dynamic within the campaign had devolved to the point where senior staffers got into shouting matches with Penn, all sides hurling profanity at each other in exchanges that made their way into news accounts.

Penn, who guided former President Bill Clinton's re-election bid to victory in 1996, was serving as both chief strategist and chief pollster -- an unusual dual role that translated into million-dollar paydays some months. Video Watch what the resignation could mean for Clinton »

In Tuesday's CNN Clinton reiterated her stance that the party's nominee should not be decided without factoring in the votes from Florida and Michigan.


"We have two major states who are in limbo, despite the fact that they voted and their votes were certified by their respective secretaries of state, and I was willing to do a revote in both states and Sen. Obama was not," Clinton said.

"I think that if we don't resolve those, then we'll be going forward to the convention." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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