The Note: War Dance


That won't be so easy: "The latest campaign-finance reports show that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign owes about $2.5 million to the firm of Mark J. Penn, who quit as chief strategist after embarrassing the campaign and left a leadership shake-up in his wake," S.A. Miller writes in the Washington Times. "The money he is owed is more than a quarter of the campaign's $8.7 million in outstanding debt."

Penn will "even maintain his modest role in preparing Clinton for upcoming debates," Thomas DeFrank and Michael McAuliff write in the New York Daily news.

"By keeping their old friend that close, the Clintons could be taking a serious risk of further alienating labor groups, especially in Pennsylvania, where Clinton is staking it all on a big win to launch a comeback."

Per Anne Kornblut of The Washington Post, some "aides wondered how the campaign will function without Penn. And despite the announcement Sunday that he is giving up his strategist role, it remain to be seen how removed he will be."

Penn himself said in a conference call with his company's managing directors that he'll continue to play a role in the campaign, HuffingtonPost's Sam Stein reports.

"Penn Schoen and Berland is going to continue to poll for it and I'll continue to play a role advising Senator Clinton and former President Clinton as well as the rest of the leadership of the campaign," Penn said, per Stein, who listened in on the call.

And Penn offered this prediction on story's lifespan in the news cycle: "There will probably be another day," he said, "but there really is only a one, two, three to the story but not really much more."

So Penn's still in the orbit, and Clinton is not quite free of other Colombia entanglements, either: "The Democratic-leaning advocacy firm the Glover Park Group, former home to Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, signed a $40,000 per month contract with the government of Colombia in April of 2007 to promote the very agreement that Clinton now rails against on the presidential campaign trail," Politico's Eamon Javers reports. "That means Glover Park Group was arguing the same position as Penn's firm."

Clinton can thank President Bush for keeping Colombia in the news. Perish the thought of the White House playing politics with the timing, but the president chose Monday (the day after Penn's demotion) to send the Colombia trade pact up to Congress.

"Bush's action will force Congress to take up the proposal under a fast-track process that will require votes within 90 legislative days, which counts the days that Congress is in session," AP's Martin Crutsinger reports.

"Officials said Bush is acting now in order to force a vote before Congress leaves in the fall for the campaign season."

"For Mrs. Clinton, the flap means she will have to redouble her efforts to hold the support of blue-collar Democrats in Pennsylvania, for whom trade has emerged as a major issue amid a slowing economy," Russell Berman writes in the New York Sun. At least's Clinton's healthcare story was true -- partially, it seems. The woman whose story Clinton has recounted numerous times was in fact admitted to the hospital in question (despite Clinton's description of the events), but "[Trina] Bechtel did not get care at another hospital that wanted a $100 pre-payment before seeing her, according to the young woman's aunt, Lisa Casto," The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut reports.

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