Clinton Staff Glad to See Penn's Exit

Morale might improve, but shift in strategy unlikely at this late hour
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2008 10:27 AM CDT
Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., cups her ear as reporters ask her about Mark Penn, the pollster and senior strategist for Clinton's presidential bid who left the campaign Sunday.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Mark Penn might have shaped the Clinton campaign, but he wasn’t well liked within it, Ben Smith writes in Politico. Some blamed him for the campaign's strategic blunders, while others were irked by his huge salary—he’s billed Clinton $13 million—and private-sector distractions. “It was very demoralizing for the staff that's working 24/7 to see him doing book tours,” said one Clinton supporter.

It was Penn who advocated policy over passion, once reportedly quipping that “being human is overrated.” But insiders don’t think his departure will trigger a shift in message. “This was … not a referendum on his strategic vision,” said one Clinton aide. Instead, Clinton will likely stick with Penn’s red-telephone strategy, attacking Barack Obama’s experience and electability.