Penn out as Clinton’s chief advisor

Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s controversial chief strategist, quit Sunday amid reports that he lobbied for a Columbian free trade treaty that his boss publicly opposes.

Campaign sources tell Capitol Hill Blue that an angry Hillary Clinton told Penn to quit or be fired because revelations of his lobbying conflict was yet another blow to her faltering Presidential campaign.

“We can’t afford any more hits,” one campaign insider said. “We’re on life support now.”

Reports Reuters:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s chief political strategist, Mark Penn, stepped aside on Sunday after news that he lobbied for a free trade treaty with Colombia that Clinton opposes.

A meeting between Penn and Colombia’s U.S. ambassador over the trade deal posed political problems for the campaign of the New York senator, who is vying with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to become the Democratic nominee in the November election.

“After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as chief strategist of the Clinton campaign,” the campaign manager, Maggie Williams, said in a statement.

Anxiety about free trade is widespread among the working-class voters Clinton and Obama are courting and both candidates oppose the deal with Colombia.

Penn apologized for the March 31 meeting with the Colombian envoy, which he said was held in his separate role as CEO of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, a lobbying firm hired by Colombia to promote a U.S. trade deal with the South American country.