The unexpected change in the former president's itinerary happened just hours after Mrs. Clinton's drubbing in the South Carolina primary, causing some party insiders to wonder if Mr. Clinton's mission to Antarctica represented something of a demotion.
The decision to dispatch Mr. Clinton to the South Pole also raised eyebrows because the continent of Antarctica does not participate in the so-called "Super Tuesday" primaries on Feb. 5 and sends no delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Mr. Penn attempted to tamp down all such speculation, telling reporters, "This race isn't about votes or delegates, it's about land mass, frozen tundra and penguins."
Mr. Clinton's itinerary change comes on the heels of a controversial incident Saturday night in which he was discovered bound and gagged in the bathroom of Mrs. Clinton's campaign plane, his hands tied by what appeared to be the jacket of a bright yellow pantsuit. Speaking to reporters with a strip of duct tape still over his mouth, Mr. Clinton denied that he was being muzzled by the campaign, adding, "Mmmfff mghrmfff mmbrrfff."
Elsewhere, the White House announced that President Bush's State of the Union address was simulcast in English.