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Hillary Clinton strategist quits amid Colombia trade flap

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080406/pl_nm/usa_politics_clinton_dc Hillary Clinton strategist quits amid Colombia trade flap By Ellen Wulfhorst 2 hours, 32
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 6, 2008
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080406/pl_nm/usa_politics_clinton_dc

      Hillary Clinton strategist quits amid Colombia trade
      flap

      By Ellen Wulfhorst 2 hours, 32 minutes ago

      ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A top campaign
      aide to Sen. Hillary Clinton, under fire for meeting
      with a Colombian diplomat to discuss a free trade deal
      that the presidential candidate opposes, quit his post
      on Sunday, the campaign said.

      "After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has
      asked to give up his role as chief strategist of the
      Clinton campaign," Clinton's campaign manager Maggie
      Williams said in a statement.

      She said Penn would continue to provide polling and
      advice to the campaign.

      News of Penn's March 31 meeting with Colombian
      Ambassador Carolina Barco Isakson, in which they
      discussed a free trade deal, first surfaced on Friday.

      Penn apologized for the meeting, which he held in his
      separate role as chief executive officer of
      Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, a lobbying firm hired by
      the South American country to help win the approval by
      the U.S. Congress of a free trade agreement with the
      United States.

      But the issue plagued the campaign of the New York
      senator, who is vying with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
      to become the Democratic nominee to run against
      Republican John McCain in the November election.

      Skepticism about free trade runs deep among the
      working-class voters Clinton and Obama are courting,
      and both Democratic candidates oppose the deal with
      Colombia.

      The president of the politically powerful Teamsters
      union, James Hoffa, said on Saturday that Penn's
      meeting with the Colombian officials undermined
      Clinton's stance on labor and trade issues.

      "How can we trust that a President Hillary Clinton
      would stand strong against this trade deal when her
      top advisor is being paid by Colombia to promote it?"
      he asked in a statement.

      Obama also has criticized Clinton saying she has close
      ties to lobbyists who might undue influence shaping
      policies, should she become president.

      The controversy prompted an angry reaction from
      Colombia, which took offense at Penn's statement in
      which he called the meeting "an error in judgment."

      The Colombian Embassy in Washington announced it was
      ending its contract with Burson-Marsteller, which had
      been hired a year ago.

      The Clinton campaign has asserted that Penn's meeting
      was "independent of the campaign."

      The two Democratic candidates have been sparring over
      the issue of trade, with each questioning the other's
      credibility in their pledges to renegotiate the North
      American Free Trade Agreement.

      (Editing by Chris Wilson)
    • Ram Lau
      Does she seriously think she still has any reasonable chance to win the nomination? Or is she staying in for something else?
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 7, 2008
        Does she seriously think she still has any reasonable chance to win
        the nomination? Or is she staying in for something else?
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