Follow by Email

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wolfson: Hillary's Senior Advisers All Rejected Penn's Push For Xenophobic Campaign

By Greg Sargent

I just reached former Hillary spokesperson Howard Wolfson to ask him for comment on Josh Green's big piece in The Atlantic reporting that chief Hillary strategist Mark Penn suggested a big effort to draw a contrast with Obama's "limited" roots to American values and culture, as Penn put it in a memo.

Wolfson's response: Penn's idea was a bad one, and all of Hillary's senior advisers rejected that approach.

"Mark had plenty of good ideas on the campaign," Wolfson said. "This was not in my opinion one of them. It was never seriously considered, in any way shape or form."

Wolfson insisted that Penn's approach wasn't ever a real topic of debate within Hillaryland.

"There were lots of long running debates within the campaign about strategy. This was not one of them," Wolfson continued. "I don't ever remember having a lengthy or serious conversation about this. None of her advisers supported this approach when presented with it."

Wolfson even insisted that Penn didn't continue to press for this approach: "In fairness to Mark, I don't remember him particularly pushing it," Wolfson said.

Josh Green's article reports that Hillary ultimately didn't adopt Penn's suggestions. "Clinton wisely chose not to go this route," Green wrote.

The question, of course, is how does the idea that senior advisers and Hillary rejected Penn's approach square with the fact that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (along with other associations) became such a big issue in the campaign? Ultimately the media broke the Wright story, though that hardly rules out the possibility that some Hillary advisers were partly responsible for making that happen.

When the Wright story broke, the Hillary camp was initially reticent about it for a time, until Hillary herself responded to a question at an edit board meeting by saying: "He would not have been my pastor."

Of course, one could also argue that making an issue out of Wright is not necessarily synonymous with an all-out campaign to exploit Obama's "limited" roots in American values and culture, though they certainly have similar shading.

No comments: