Mark Penn: I Had Nothing To Do With This Dumb Clinton Campaign

Last week, Clinton senior adviser Harold Ickes ripped chief strategist Mark "Bowser" Penn's stranglehold over the campaign. By most professional standards, it was very inappropriate. But now the bile and sludge that composes 95% of Penn's body is boiling to the surface in response. He says he wasn't in charge of everything, not at all! He was just some outside dude who'd phone in witty maxims and inspirational haiku when Clinton asked.

Welcome to Hell, where you can never downplay your role quite enough:

As the campaign faces a make-or-break moment, some high-level officials are trying to play down their role in the campaign. Penn said in an e-mail over the weekend that he had "no direct authority in the campaign," describing himself as merely "an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me."

"I have had no say or involvement in four key areas -- the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides. Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas."

Howard Wolfson, the campaign's communications chief, answered that it was Penn who had top responsibility for both its strategy and message. Another aide said Penn spoke to Clinton routinely about the campaign's message and ran daily meetings on the topic.

What's going on here? Do they realize we've got a do-or-die votey thing for Clinton tomorrow? Maybe the infighting is centralized after all, from Clinton herself: downplay the entire campaign by having each adviser say it was just some fun weekend getaway, and that little black kid can have the nomination if it's so important to him.

How did the Clinton campaign get here? [LA Times]


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