The Washington Post front-pages, Mark J. Penn quit Sunday as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist, the second shake-up in her campaign's top ranks since the onetime front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination began trailing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Penn had been a polarizing figure within the Clinton campaign for months because of his personality as well as his strategic vision, but his departure came as a result of another continuing controversy -- the conflicts of interest that resulted from his representing major clients as president of Burson-Marsteller, the giant public relations firm, while working for Clinton."
The Boston Globe on Penn's meeting with the Colombian government and then campaign departure. "[T]he meeting rankled labor union activists, who questioned whether the meeting undermined Clinton's pro-labor message at a time when she must hold on to the working-class vote."
Campaign manager Maggie Williams released this statement early yesterday evening: "After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as Chief Strategist of the Clinton Campaign; Mark, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign. Geoff Garin and Howard Wolfson will coordinate the campaign's strategic message team going forward."
The New York Times: "For months, many have wondered why Mrs. Clinton had protected the gruff, rumpled strategist. Many rivals within the campaign held Mr. Penn responsible for the flawed electoral strategy that is considered partly to blame for Mrs. Clinton's difficult political position, trailing Mr. Obama by more than a hundred delegates and facing a very narrow path to winning the Democratic nomination. Mr. Penn advocated the plan to focus on a limited number of big state primaries, ignoring many smaller states and caucuses, where Mr. Obama built what appears to be an impregnable lead in pledged delegates."
Also, "Mr. Penn also early on resisted efforts to humanize Mrs. Clinton, insisting that her personality was not a detriment and that voters would be drawn to her experience and presumed competence. He repeatedly pointed to polling data to support his position, leading to battles with other aides who later said it was the glimpses of vulnerability and humanity seen after her loss in Iowa that enabled her to rebound."
Boarding plane in Albuquerque, Clinton did not respond to reporters' questions on Mark Penn, NBC's John Boxley report. Getting out of car she looked at the reporters on tarmac, smiled, and cuffed her hand around her ear -- unable to hear us, like Ronald Reagan used to do when he didn't want to answer questions.
Walking up the stairs, she stopped and said, "Look at you all. It's so nice out here." She then boarded the plane.
The Los Angeles Times doesn't call the move a firing -- but rather a demotion. In fact, it says Penn may not be going anywhere, "It is unclear whether Penn's demotion will satisfy his detractors or stabilize the campaign in the crucial final months of the primary season. 'When you add to it the already contentious relationship he had with so many internally in the campaign and externally, he really should have been fired,' one Clinton aide said Sunday, speaking on the condition of anonymity while discussing internal campaign dynamics. Though he will no longer have the grand title of chief strategist, he will continue to 'wield power,' the aide said.
Teamsters president James Hoffa said the demotion isn't good enough. "'Demotion doesn't answer General President Hoffa's concerns. Mark Penn is still on her payroll and Burson-Marsteller's payroll,' a spokeswoman for Mr. Hoffa, Leigh Strope, said. 'Title demotion doesn't indicate loss of influence.'" The Teamsters have endorsed Obama.
The New York Daily News' DeFrank writes, "Mark Penn was the poster child for a campaign already on the shoals, so his belated ouster won't be enough to right Hillary Clinton's prospects. But as the Democratic contest reaches a climax, at least morale inside the Clinton bunker will soar."
The New York Post puts Penn's ouster on its cover: "Top man out in Hill shakeup." Penn's "apology both offended the Colombians, who fired his firm, and failed to satisfy several union officials, who demanded that he step down."