Quote of the day

Top Clinton advisor Mark Penn throws everyone else under the bus.

By Alex Koppelman
Published March 3, 2008 3:01PM (EST)

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.

-- That's Mark Penn, doing his best to unshoulder the burden of responsibility for any failings in Hillary Clinton's campaign, in which he has been a top advisor, in an article in the Los Angeles Times.

For what it's worth, Ickes himself has said Penn is the man behind the Clinton campaign curtain -- in a recent article in the New York Observer, Ickes said that Penn insisted on the title of chief strategist within the campaign. "Mark Penn has run this campaign. Besides Hillary Clinton, he is the single most responsible person for this campaign," Ickes told the Observer. "It's pretty plain for anyone to see that he has shaped the strategy of the campaign. He has called the shots ... Mark Penn has dominated the message in this campaign. Dominated it."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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