POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Inside Clinton Camp -- Donors Panicking, Advisers Fault Penn

The scope of Barack Obama's victory in Iowa has shaken the Clinton machine down to its bolts. Donors are panicking. The campaign has been making a round of calls to reassure notoriously fickle "superdelegates" -- elected officials and party regulars who are awarded convention spots by virtue of their titles and positions -- who might be reconsidering their decisions to back the candidate who formerly looked like a sure winner. And internally, a round of recriminations is being aimed at her chief strategist, Mark Penn, as the representative of everything about her pseudo-incumbent campaign that has been too cautious, too arrogant, too conventional and too clueless as to how much the political landscape has shifted since the last Clinton reign. One adviser summed up the biggest challenge that faces the campaign in two words: "Fresh thinking."

Specifically, those inside the campaign and outside advisers fault Penn for failing to see the Iowa defeat coming. They say he was assuring Clinton and her allies right up until the caucuses that they would win it. Says one: "He did not predict in any way, shape or form the tidal wave we saw." In particular, he had assured them that Clinton's support among women would carry her through. Yet she managed to win only 30% of the women's vote, while 35% of them went for Obama.

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