Mark Blumenthal | April 7, 2008
Topics: 2008 , Bob Casey Jr. , Garin-Hart-Young , Mark Penn , NBC/Wall Street Journal , Pollsters , USA Today
As by now you have probably learned from every media outlet in the known universe, pollster Mark Penn has resigned as chief political strategist for the Clinton campaign over the flap involving his outside work for the government of Colombia. First Read has a roundup of stories as does USAToday's Mark Memmott. See also the blogger/reporter commentary from Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith, Chuck Todd, ABC's Political Radar, Mark Halperin, Chris Beam and many, many more.
Two added points. Josh Marshall wonders if Penn is "completely, positively" out of the Clinton campaign. He notes that the statement from campaign manager Maggie Williams says that Penn and his firm will "continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign" and observes…
The campaign statement says Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson are taking over strategy and message. But Garin's a pollster. So the logic of the situation says he's taking over the polling. But it doesn't actually say that. Meanwhile the statement does conspicuously go out of its way to say that Penn and his firm will not only keep doing polling but also keep advising the campaign.
I'm going to have to wait to hear from some of my DC Dem consultant/polling community friends to get more of a feel for what happened here. Because if he was really sacked, the sacking announcement sort of reads like he helped draft it.
In politics, Mr. Garin has a well-earned reputation for helping candidates win in difficult circumstances. In 2001, Mr. Garin’s strategic research helped Mark Warner win the governorship in Virginia, despite the state’s strong Republican leanings. Mr. Garin has directed the polling and created winning campaign strategies for many of the leading Democrats serving in the U.S. Senate, including Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Russ Feingold, Robert C. Byrd, Jay Rockefeller, Patrick Leahy, Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Byron Dorgan. In the 2004 presidential election, Mr. Garin was the polling advisor to General Wesley Clark and was the pollster for the Democratic National Committee’s independent expenditure campaign in the general election.
Two thoughts about Garin: First, both Garin and his firm share nearly universal respect from other pollsters and Democratic political professionals. As most readers know, company chairman Peter D. Hart has polled for prominent Democrats for decades (incuding Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984) and has conducted the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (along with a Republican partner, first the late Bob Teeter and more recently Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies) for nearly two decades.
Second, as the client list suggests, Garin's firm has considerable experience in the states with upcoming primaries and caucuses. Byrd and Rockefeller are from West Virginia, Baucus from Montana. Garin's partner Fred Yang has a current client list that includes Senator Bob Casey and Mayor Michael Nutter of Pennsylvania, Governor Mike Easley and Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, and Congressmen Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana.
Demoted Hillary Clinton strategist Mark Penn may no longer have the coveted title of chief strategist, but he remains a key member of the campaign's senior staff.
Mr. Penn took part on the campaign's morning message call this morning, as usual.
This afternoon, he is also scheduled to be on a call with Clinton and other aides to begin to prepare for Saturday's presidential debate in Philadelphia.
Mr. Penn "is still going to be very much involved," a senior campaign official said.
[Typos corrected -- thanks CL]