February 18th, 2008
03:07 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama, Clinton camps point to 'borrowed rhetoric'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/18/art.obamaclinton.ap.jpg caption="The Clinton and Obama campaigns traded plagiarism allegations Monday."] (CNN) - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaigns each accused the other of plagiarizing portions of their campaign speeches Monday, with the Clinton campaign accusing Obama of borrowing from a close supporter - and the Illinois senator’s campaign accusing his rival of lifting from Obama himself.

On a conference call with reporters, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said it was clear Obama had “lifted rhetoric” from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Portions of Patrick’s speeches during his gubernatorial run resemble some of Obama’s addresses this year.

“If you’re going to be talking about the value of words, the words ought to be your own,” said Wolfson.

In a statement this morning, Patrick said the two men often shared ideas and language with each other.

As Wolfson spoke, the Obama campaign hosted a competing conference call, during which campaign manager David Plouffe said Clinton was "denigrating the power of words."

The Obama camp also said Clinton had a pattern of borrowing some of the Illinois senator’s signature phrases, including “Yes, We Can” and “Fired Up, Ready to Go.”

They also circulated a YouTube video and list of these alleged instances to reporters still listening to Wolfson.

"...We have seen thousands and thousands of Iowans over the last week and we are fired up and we are ready to go because we know America is ready for change and the process starts right here in Iowa," says Clinton in the pre-Iowa caucuses clip circulated by the Obama campaign Monday.

UPDATE (1:45 p.m. ET): CNN's Chris Welch reports that Obama is playing down the allegations, telling reporters that he's written two books and most of his own speeches.

“Deval and I do trade ideas all the time, and you know he's occasionally used lines of mine, and I at a Jefferson Jackson dinner in Wisconsin used some words of his. And you know I would add I’ve noticed on occasion Sen. Clinton has used words of mine as well,” said Obama, adding, "...As I said before, I really don't think this is too big of a deal."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (773 Responses)
  1. Rosemarie

    Right on Karen, Nobody seems to understand that there is so much red tape to go through before anyone can PUSH a program through,
    why aren't we all standing up and taking notice. I saw Sen.Obama on screen thisafternoon at a Rally and he had a lady up there singing and whathave you. I think he should give in and go to his true calling of a Theatrical actor, the rally was ridiculous and he needs to get back to serious politics instead of the stupid things he is doing.

    By the way why is everyone on Chelsea's back because she wants to talk to the people which is as it should be, nobody should be speaking to the press, especiall CNN they turn everything inside out and give a total differen meaning to everything.

    February 18, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Jas

    Don't just read the article watch the videos of the two speeches. I did and must say I was shocked at the blatant plagiarism. It's much more than a simple use of a slogan here or there.

    February 18, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Patty

    Isn't Obama's "Yes we can" a direct ripoff from the California farm workers and Chavez from years ago?

    February 18, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. Pat, Madison, WI

    Do both of these candidates need some quiet time? Maybe a nap?

    We need adults running the country, not quarreling cranky children.

    Ok, ok, mamma is going to settle it.....No one owns the phrase "fired up" or "yes we can". These phrases were in use long before either of these candidates started their campain, so they don't belong to anyone.

    We know that the candidates don't write their own speeches. Can we dispense with that discussion as well? Nobody is copying, nobody is cheating....it is an open book test.

    As a voter, I want to elect someone who takes my problems seriously. A candidate consumes my time with such silliness – Not so much.

    Where is John Edwards when we need him.... paging a serious, adult democrat....any serious, adult democrat......

    February 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. Miles

    It's about time Obama is being exposed as lazy lazy lazy....he borrows more like steals from everyones speeches and calls them his owns....the worst is he is always stealing from Martin Luther King!!!

    Obama create your own personality you are not MLK and you are more of the same contrary to what you want to make the public believe!! You are a hypocrite, Obama!!

    Obama is... do as I say not as I do!!

    Hillary for President, she is who she is!!! 2008

    February 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Debbie

    Come on Clintons!!! We've seen you "borrow" words from Obama on several occasions in the past month.

    Hillary, if your campaign doesn't stop playing in the mud my pig farming friends in Iowa have a place for ya'll.

    February 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Deb

    Omg...Hillary claims to be a "proven commodity, tried and tested". What kind of nonsense is that? Proven? When? Tried and tested? By whom? She keeps tossing out this bogus resume of her's expecting us to believe this nonsense. In typical Clinton fashing....SHE'S LYING!

    February 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Tjstelten

    Desperate people often do desperate things. Clinton is really reaching the bottom of the barrel with this one! I have heard her more than once use Obama phases and he let it go because he knew it was trite! Obama has higher ethics or should I just say is ethical ! Shame on the Clintons! But who is really surprised!

    February 18, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. Papa Roach

    Hillary will do anything to get air time. How pitiful... and rather funny....


    February 18, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Jennifer From Wisconsin

    Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is out of touch with the needs of most Americans. Obama plans to offer tax incentives for companies to operate here in the US. He also plans to streamline the IRS to make it easier to file taxes. We need change folks!
    I predict that Obama takes Wisconsin by about 7 points tomorrow. On the street here, everyone is pumped for Obama.

    February 18, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. DR

    Let these two battle over childish issues like this. All it does is show their true colors and proves that this country needs a proven leader like John McCain!

    February 18, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Val Davydov, MA

    Here is the story with Deval Patrick in MA: ever since he took the office in January of 2007 he has been pushing for the three casinos to be developed in our state because he can't think of any other ways to fulfill his promises he made when he was running for Governor of MA. Believe it or not, to pay for these expensive programs he came up with, he has proposed his budget for 2009 already including the revenues state would get from the casinos knowing that the House may vote against his plan for developing casinos. This is what we are dealing with in MA. He is running the state into deficit faster than he talks.

    February 18, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Joan

    Obama is exposed for the poser he is. He pretends to be an agent of change yet he can't even write his own words. So, what is left? He doesn't have experience, he hasn't been able to develop detailed policy plans to help our nation and he can't defend his opponents views with his own thoughts?

    February 18, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. black &proud 4hillary


    February 18, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Al Minor

    This is SOOO much fun...! Hillary and Obama have the best reality show on TV. Top Chef and Project Runway have nothing on the Obama- Hillary Political Sideshow.

    " Hillary –you are eliminated....!"
    " Senator Obama, you go on to the final round."
    Few tears for Hil : Lots of Cheers, OBAMA!

    OBAMA 08– FELLS GREAT, OBAMA 09 We'll be fine! Go Obama!

    February 18, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. Virginia

    Oddly enough, when you have been around as long as I have, and voted since 1952, you laugh at the way so many young people are following the Pied Piper," who really is tooting his own horn". It is all about the words isn't it? What we hear, what we want to hear, what we think we hear........and that is ,we hear the same thing, same issues in every campaign, directed to John Q. Public. And we fall for it ! Do you really think in 4 short years much will be accomplished, or is it really that we just want someone else for a change never really caring whether these politicians can deliver or not. Just give us change !! Well, think again, in order for "change" to happen, we need someone who knows what to do, where to go, how to make it a happen, has ideas and spells it out for us, in other words we need Hillary.
    She truly does have solutions, I have heard them time and time again, but on the other hand Obama just talks, he is boring, I don't care what or who he has seen, or who endorses him, I am not in awe of him, and Obama mania isn't any different than a bunch of teenagers chasing a "Rock Star". Time shows us what experience can do, we do not have "time " for any more mistakes, we have had 8 years of them. WE need substance behind those words, no matter what the words are, being able to put those words into action is what counts in the end for you and me. Never mind the Lobbyists, we need some of that Lobbying" to get things done,it will never go away, and Obama won't be able to live without them don't let him kid you into thinking that. ! So listen with your heads, not your hearts, because it won't last, Obama is still wearing training pants, while HIllary is already trained and ready to move on. If you don't have experience what do you have to draw from. Of course Obana with Kennedy, Kerry endorsements you have the "old establishment" to lead you, do you want more of that??? TAke caution, listen with your mind, and vote the right decision, because once it is done, it is done !!!! GO HILLARY !!!

    February 18, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. William

    Hate to break it to you all but Bob The Builder coined the phrase "Yes we can". Crap like this will make McCain a shoe in in November. Wait and see!

    February 18, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  18. Linda Li

    "YES, WE WILL. YES, WE WILL. YES, WE WILL". (x10) Oh, how my ears bled.

    I had nothing against Clinton at the start of this campaign – if Obama ended up losing the nomination, I would have voted for her. After all, their ideologies are quite similar.

    Now, I'm not sure. Clinton has proven herself to be the type of candidate that would say anything and do anything to become elected. Pandering, lying, negativity... and fruitless attempt at copying Obama's rhetoric.

    Clinton divides, Obama unites.

    February 18, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. Paul crow

    As a voter I want my vote to count for something. So I have been researching the issues and the people that are running for our highest office. I watch the news alot and found it odd that the news does not or will not focus on the truth. About want is being said. Who is being more truthful. It really is not that hard to find out. So why doesn't CNN focus on that for once...the truth. Who is being more truthful to us the voters?????????????

    February 18, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. I see a McCain win

    Hi Charlotte the CNN racist. Get a Job and stop with Obama Black slams. Yup looks like us Dems are going to mess this up. I will never vote for Hill. Decide what you are going to do. Are you going to cry? Are you going to have Bill fight your battles? Are going to hate on hope? Hillary you are a fake.

    February 18, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Jesse - San Antonio TX

    Yes, We Can... Si, Se Puede.

    Dolores Huerta came up with that slogan back in 1976 for Cesar Chavez's Union Farmworkers, not the Obama Camp.

    He Also lifted, to a point where the text is identical, Clinton Economic Policy.

    He's even borrowed policies from John Edwards.

    The point is, he's a politician trying to spin establishment tactics as new and anti-establishment.

    He's getting away with it because he's the media darling.

    But this whole thing" She copied me" stuff is childish. It show's he's not ready. I don't care if he's trying to make a point, the whole tone Is childish.

    February 18, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Susan

    This wouldn't matter if Obama was running on more than words. . . but he's not.

    CLINTON '08

    February 18, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. Em

    When a candidate is the subject of a smear, taking the high road only makes that candidate seem weak. Look at Kerry, who initially tried to downplay the utterly slimy Swift Boat allegations. After Kerry lost the election, Bill Clinton declared that Democrats have to stand up on their hind legs and fight back when Republican smear campaigns emerge – not by retaliating, but by exposing the lies and the dirty politics.

    So it's sad and ironic various smears keep originating from HRC's campaign, and that people consider it "whining" when Obama responds. I do wish Obama's camp hadn't mentioned the tendencies of other candidates to imitate his oratory, though. This is a stupid distraction.

    No candidate is going to come out of this race looking blameless. And if you think John McCain is more of an "adult" than the others – well, this is the man who thought it funny to sing, "Bomb bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann." I mean, really. His outbursts are legendary. Brace yourselves.

    February 18, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31