Governor Ed Rendell Hints That Mark Penn Should Be Fired

This has, undoubtedly, been a very tough week for Sen. Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn.

First, news breaks that he met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. to discuss passage of a bilateral free-trade agreement - a pact Clinton opposes. Then, there is confusion over whether he held the meeting as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide or as a representative of the senator. And finally, he calls the meeting an error in judgment only to be fired by Colombia (for that statement) the very next day.

Now, it seems, the blowback has begun.

Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Gov. Ed Rendell, a key surrogate to Sen. Clinton was asked whether, in the wake of the Colombia mess, the campaign should considering Penn's firing.

His answer was hardly a vote of confidence. Why stop at just the Colombia mess?


"Well there are a lot of issues in which you can raise that question, Tim," Rendell told host Tim Russert. "I think you've got to make it very clear for someone who is a consultant, who you are representing and who you are not representing and I would hope that Mr. Penn when he talked to the Colombians made that clear. And it doesn't sound to me like he did and that's something the campaign should take into question."

Ever the good sport, Rendell went from there to discuss Sen. Clinton's history of opposing free trade agreements that did not come with labor or environmental standards.

But, it must be noted, that this isn't the first time Penn's business involvements have caused political headaches for his candidate. Indeed, the Burson CEO has represented the energy-giant Exelon, at the same time he was criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for his ties to the company. He has also been involved with a list of businesses embroiled in deep-seated labor disputes including, as the Huffington Post reported, New Era Cap.