Hillary Clinton's campaign finished paying off a $5.4 million debt owed to Mark Penn's political consulting firm only in January 2013. The sum was left over from her suspended 2008 campaign, for which Penn was the chief strategist.
But if Clinton runs in 2016, Penn is extremely unlikely to join on again, according to the Washington Post.
"You would have to ask them," Penn told the Post when asked whether he would be welcomed back for a 2016 run. Many Clinton aides told the Post that they believed it was impossible for Penn to rejoin the campaign.
If indeed Penn is persona non grata, it would be a major break between him and the Clintons. Penn advised Bill Clinton as president following the 1994 midterm election debacle, and Hillary Clinton in her two Senate campaigns. He resigned from serving in Clinton's 2008 campaign after he met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. to discuss a free-trade pact on behalf of his job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, a communications and lobbying firm. Clinton opposed the deal.
Penn also was blamed for many of the missteps in Clinton's 2008 campaign. According to Time's Karen Tumulty, he thought a win by Clinton in California would put her over the top in terms of delegates, not apparently realizing that they are allocated proportionally. (David Plouffe, who ran Obama's campaign, took advantage of the proportional allocation of delegates to win the nomination.)
Penn, according to Newsweek, suggested that Clinton's campaign target Obama's "lack of American roots," and "drape Hillary in the flag as much as possible." Clinton declined.
Asked by the Post how the 2008 campaign had changed his relationship with the Clintons, Penn said, "I never tell anybody."