Oops, blue-collar votes in peril

Dateline: Mon 07 Apr 2008

The announcement that Mark Penn has been fired as Hillary Clinton's chief strategist is just another indication how rocky her campaign is -- if you don't get the joke, check out the editorial cartoon on the Star's op-ed page today. Or just think Rocky Balboa of Pennsylania fame, underdog and really bad metaphor.

It seems Hillary has two bases: old-line wealthy Dem loyalists who have either ideological or economic ties to the Clintons, and deluded blue-collar/women-over-the-hill voters who think Hillary is some sort of goddess. (OK, there are a few bright Dems who just like Hillary's policies.)

But the NYT reports today that Mark Penn screwed up Hillary's image with her blue collar types when he went to work negotiating a trade deal with Columbia while wearing his other hat (he runs a PR firm with a global strategy).

Sez the Times today:

"Mr. Penn's work on the trade treaty with Colombia threatened to undercut Mrs. Clinton's support among the blue-collar voters who are a crucial part of her base, as well as call into question the sincerity of her populist economic message.

"A statement from Maggie Williams, the campaign manager, and comments from aides suggested that Mr. Penn voluntarily stepped aside, but other knowledgeable aides said that Mrs. Clinton was furious when she learned of the Colombia talks and insisted on Mr. Penn's demotion. Mr. Clinton concurred in that judgment, aides said."

Penn has been with the HillBill since 1996. Like him or not -- and few do -- he's pulled off some foxy moves that won her votes (the Texas 3 a.m. red phone ad, which apparently scared some people into voting for the woman).

My take: her campaign is so last year. It's over, babe.

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