Hillary Clinton has parted ways with her chief strategist, Mark Penn, who left her campaign Sunday after his controversial moonlighting as a lobbyist reportedly angered both Sen. Clinton and her husband. Penn was said to be unpopular with other top-tier advisers, in part because of his sweeping influence over the campaign.
Update: Penn’s “exit” from the Clinton campaign hasn’t taken him very far. While he has lost his czar-like powers, he remains, it seems, part of the inner circle.
Penn has been a controversial figure throughout the campaign, alienating colleagues with his brusque manner and pursuing a strategy emphasizing Clinton’s toughness, experience, and electability, at a time when most analysts in both parties see an electorate demanding change.
Although the campaign’s statement announcing Penn’s departure as chief strategist suggested he would continue to give advice to her effort, it is impossible to overstate how fundamental a change this represents in Clinton’s campaign. Penn has had almost full autonomy to make major decisions involving what the candidate says, where she goes, and what gets conveyed in her advertisements. Even as many in the campaign had turned sour on Penn, he reportedly enjoyed the confidence of both Hillary and Bill Clinton. Indeed, he survived a fierce barrage of criticism in January after she came in third in the Iowa caucuses. But now, facing intense pressure, he has departed.