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Clinton Advisor Wanted to Hit Obama For Un-American Roots

A clash of personalities unraveled Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House, according to The Atlantic, which published internal Clinton camp emails and memos last night.

One of the most astonishing communications came in March 2007, when Hillary Clinton's then-chief strategist Mark Penn authored an email that resembled a smear chain email, more than a strategy recommendation against a friendly primary opponent. Penn wrote:

All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared toward showing his background is diverse, multicultural, and putting that in a new light. Save it for 2050. . . . It also exposes a very strong weakness for him — his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values.

Penn goes on to say that Hillary should own "American." To find out what he suggested,


Penn thought Clinton could show Obama's weakness by mentioning that she was born in middle American in every speech, handing out American flags with her logo, and attaching "American" to the title of every proposed policy program.

Thanks to internal fighting among Clinton staffers, The Atlantic got its hands on these inside communications, spanning from the October 2006, before Hillary was publicly running to her final pitch to superdelegates on June 3, 2008.

Perhaps this revelation that a top adviser wanted to target Obama's "lack" of American roots will help the two camps reconcile because Hillary did not pursue the attack line, but then again it could resurrect tense feelings between the two groups of the Democratic party.


Join The Conversation
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I'm glad to see that this isn't a bashing Hillary thread. I was afraid to click on it. I agree with yaya... I think that Hillary should've fired Penn for many reasons. I'm glad that she did not use this tactic and I'm glad that towards the end of her campaign she started to rely more on herself and less on what Penn and her "advisors" thought she should do.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
That is barring the ridiculous stories about Obama's roots, etc. I was referring to the policy misrepresentations. However, for every person who believes the ridiculous stories about Obama and is not voting for him because of them, there is a person who is voting for Obama for a completely superficial reason. These people are the minority of both his supporters and his detractors.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Jill, the policy misrepresentations have been coming form both sides about both sides, not just from the campaigns, but from pundits and news organizations on both sides, as well. So, I'm not sure that the Obama misrepresentations are affecting Obama any more than the McCain misrepresentations are affecting McCain.
nadiap nadiap 9 years
I think it was Lewis Black who said it best when he said Democrats blows and Republicans suck. Democrats have a knack for shooting themselves in the foot and losing elections and Republicans are just plain vile. They will sink to any level. At least Hillary did not use it. Look at the filthy way Bush and Karl Rove went after McCain in 2000 using his "black" adopted child. (look it up)Now I see a McCain ad usng the "American" angle saying The "American" President every "American" has been waiting for. Hint hint Obama is not "American" What is American Values? Destroying the constitution? Politicizing the justice department with your wicked cronies? Knowingly lying to your country about weapons of mass destruction so you can attack & destroy a weaker country and murder over a million people over oil?. Telling the VA doctors not to dx injured soldiers with post traumatic stress syndrome so you can cheat them and their families out of benefits. Oh who can resist those wholesome values.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I think if you could trace your roots back to the birth of Christ, and they were born in America, then you probably can consider yourself an American. If not, you better get a note from your mother.
amybdk amybdk 9 years
that information is located in my back pocket.
stephley stephley 9 years
Exactly how far back do your roots have to go for you to be considered a real American? Does anyone know where that information is kept?
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
"He talks about where he wants the country to be, but doesn't have the vehicle to get us there." Well whatever vehicle he uses, I'll bet it will have inflated tires! In all seriousness though, I never thought this was going to be a runaway race for the Dems. As much as people don't seem to like Bush and are disappointed about the war & economy, I don't think many people are fundamentally changing their ideologies. My Republican friends are just assuming McCain will be better than Bush, and would never vote for Obama because they just don't match up with him ideologically. Okay I'm digressing. The point is though I truly think this is going to be a tight race and I certainly didn't expect it to be otherwise.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Undave, I think that a lot of people have been mislead about what Obama's policies are. The McCain ad, for example, saying he will raise taxes on people making over $42,000 when REALLY, he will give a tax break to those people. (The independent Tax Policy Center shows that the vast majority of Americans will keep more of their money under Obama's plans). It isn't just distorting where Obama stands, it is saying the 180 degree opposite of what he proposes. Also, you have Fox News, which is usually top rated, reporting things that aren't true. I saw one of the anchors say that the tire gauge was the basis of Obama's energy plan last week...and that is so not true it is absurd. I really, really think the American people would be better served when people stop distorting Obama's policy ideas. The sad thing is that most people don't have the time to do the research it takes to find out they are being outright lied to.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Point taken. I just don't understand Why it's a close race. Obama should be miles ahead, given the perceived mess the Republican party has placed this country in.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I was talking specifically about that story in the comment above mine... >someone asked me how i could support someone who wasn't a "naturalized american." he went on to say that b/c obama's parents weren't american citizens (he was wrong, btw), that obama shouldn't be eligible to be president. If people don't agree with his policies, okay. I disagree but I can respect opinions based on facts. It's a close race, though, and I hope the tie breaker doesn't end up being nut bags like that one.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I don't think people aren't voting against Obama because "they think Obama is a muslim terrorist from Indonesia." IMO, most people aren't voting for Obama because his policies don't make sense. He talks about where he wants the country to be, but doesn't have the vehicle to get us there.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
That is scary. If people know all the facts and want to vote for McCain, fine. But if they think Obama is a muslim terrorist from Indonesia, then our democracy has been compromised.
jenintx jenintx 9 years
when i was on vacation last month, i walked into a restaurant (wearing an obama t-shirt) and someone asked me how i could support someone who wasn't a "naturalized american." he went on to say that b/c obama's parents weren't american citizens (he was wrong, btw), that obama shouldn't be eligible to be president. i was flabergasted! i had never heard such a thing. clearly this is something that has made its rounds and people buy it wholeheartedly. it astounds me.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
Yaya is right. Barack Obama's diversity makes him qualified. Diversity is its own reward, which is why we need more affirmative action laws.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
>I can't believe someone would try to say that you are not "fundamentally American" because you are multi-racial or because you lived in Hawaii. This.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Interesting theory, Chip!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Ok, I'll consider that as well. That still doesn't look good for Clinton though. Not much on the money management skills.
chipjimi chipjimi 9 years
He might have leaked it because he may not have been paid yet.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Is she, and her team trying to get McCain elected? What other ways to hurt Obama are going to get "leaked" from the Clinton camp? I hope Democrats are watching this and taking notes, preparing for 2012 or 2016, if she tries to run again.
YayaOzoHead YayaOzoHead 9 years
She should have fired his arse. Besides, I believe that his diverse background makes him more qualified to be president.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Well, this is one that can't rationally be pinned on any opposing parties. It's purely within the Clinton campaign and her strategy team.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
It's kind of fascinating to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. I do feel like Obama was still cast as unpatriotic.
chipjimi chipjimi 9 years
According to Penn, I don't qualify as "fundamentally American".
stephley stephley 9 years
By Penn's standard, an awful lot of people who think they are American don't pass the test. I don't understand his purpose in making sure this all comes to light.
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