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The Atlantic
  • Mark Penn on How Not to Run a Campaign

    Unsure of who wrote the playbook for John McCain's increasingly negative campaign against Barack Obama? Well have you considered former Hillary Clinton strategist Mark Penn?

    According to the upcoming issue of The Atlantic, Penn was pushing Clinton as far back as March 2007 to raise public doubts on Obama's "roots to basic American values and culture." Regarding Obama's virtues as a multicultural candidate, Penn opined, "Save it for 2050," adding…

    "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."

    Sounds like Penn had been receiving e-mails intended for somebody's Jewish grandmother in South Florida. Or maybe he was the one sending them. Who knows.

    And what's more American than stirring up racial tensions?

    "If you believe that serious issues need to be raised then we have to raise them without continual hesitation and we should be pushing the envelope. Won't a single tape of [the Reverend Jeremiah] Wright going off on America with Obama sitting there be a game ender?

    "Many people… believe under the surface that 20 years sitting there with Goddamn America would make him unelectable by itself."

    It might very well have been a "game ender," but such a tape never showed up.

    However, having no strategy past New Hampshire, blowing through money like MC Hammer and openly courting the George Wallace wing of the Democratic Party seemed to do the trick quite nicely.

    Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jeremiah Wright, Mark Penn, The Atlantic