February 18th, 2008
03:07 PM ET
14 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. Sal

    McCain should want small Government. Hillary's money pot is drying up.

    When Obama agreed to the public funding, it was base on a balance playing field. The field has not not been balance or fair. Special interest groups, and 527 have played a strong role in this election year. 527 groups have worked for the candidate with using the candidate's monies. So, until they resolve this issue, in evening the playing field, it would be wise for Obama to support such an agreement with McCain.

    Hillary needs to support her Party.

    McCain needs to earn his money by "Working Hard at getting the Support of All America"

    Obama is for Change

    February 18, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Mike T

    This is just getting silly at this point. These 2 are like a pair of second graders, "telling on each other." Grow up, both of you.

    February 18, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Manuel TX

    Obama’s entire speech was almost exactly like Deval’s speech from 2006. Under any other circumstances this is considered plagiarism.

    In this instance what you have is the "marketing" of a candidate using old material. Obama's strong suit is reading other people's speeches via teleprompter. He has a talent for that.

    Does that qualify him to be president of the United States?

    Not really.

    February 18, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Kim Johnson

    This is sooooo petty and childish. Grow up!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Mashawnda, North Carolina

    Its evident that Clinton's camp believes that Obama's speeches are the only thing that he has on her...This is petty, and I wish the Obama camp would not respond to matters like this...

    February 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. John

    Keep trying whatever you can Senator Clinton, the race is wraped up and you lost.

    February 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Come on Hillary get a life and drop out.

    February 18, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Kat Williams

    na na na na...Hillary did it too! Good god this man sounds like a small child.

    February 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Maksym

    "…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.

    Talking about sad case of plagiarism, quite sad.

    February 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. ABG

    Senator Obama talks about change. What change has he delivered in his short political career? Words mean nothing without concrete action. He uses others' speeches and plans. I would expect nothing less from someone with little experience banking on the American people to be inspired by his speeches and "hope" he can really deliver. We have had enough of that for the last 8 years!

    February 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Joe

    For Pete's Sake – Can't we just grow up and get along? Haven't we had enough of the "right" for the past 8 years? Aren't there really BIG issues that need to be solved immediately? Why are we even listening to this – and why are the campaigns WASTING their/my time with it? UGH!

    February 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Joann

    Oh Man – boo hoo, boo hoo from Obama again. He just can't take it like a man. He has to come back with every little thing. Everyone says they don't like the fighting but Obama seems to be at the forefront every time. He's such a whiner. Hillary has been very dignified and a true lady through all the Media's scrutiny of her. I think if I took as much "hate" and bad mouthing as MSNBC, CNN and FOX news has given her I'd have lost it by now and would have blown up. Her attitude is so good. She always comes out with a smile, she always takes questions and shakes hands, takes pictures until the sun goes down and then leaves with that same smile. I never see any of this from Obama. He doesn't smile (that's a gas pain), he doesn't take questions (because he has no answers) he's just too sullen. Go Hillary

    February 18, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. MBAlady

    Stop whining like babies, already.

    February 18, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. s.b.

    Funny thing Obama didn't start using the phrase "fired up" until after Iowa. Perhaps he lifted it from her.

    February 18, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. David

    Since when is fired up and ready to go Obama's signature phrase. I have been using this phrase since i was a kid, so maybe he's the one plagiarizing from me. This guy is such a fake and a phony. Be smart America and vote for Hillary.

    February 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Joann

    Hey guys, it wasn't the Clinton Camp that started with the "stolen speeches". It's the media not Clinton. she could care less. Don't blame the wrong people to make Obama look great. He's all smoke and mirrors. Drop out Obummer

    February 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. eddie

    Obama is a rhetoric campaigner with nothing but sorry lines. His website is a santa claus like wish list with no specifics, no details, no plans, no figures, template, or anything.

    February 18, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Manny

    LOL....Oh my gosh! What is this, third grade?

    February 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. david

    CNN is quuite childish now. this is not worth discussing. hey guys have fun reading such funny stories. both candidates turn childish now. so funny.

    February 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Christian, Tampa FL

    Oh for Pete's sake. This is ridiculous on everyone's part.

    I would like to comment on another Ticker post, regarding the picture of Africans holding hand-made "Obama '08" signs in Tanzania:

    Obama represents hope not only for the United States, but also for Africa and other countries around the world. If a man with a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya can become President of the United States, then anything is possible for those people in Africa. The power of an Obama presidency to help repair America's image around the world and build bridges with the most impoverished continent would be incredible. He could inspire not only this country, but also Africa and others and really get things done with his popularity. Let's give him the chance.

    Let all voters keep this amazing opportunity for America and the world in mind as they go to the polls.

    February 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. DefiantRican

    All I can say is Hillary in 08. Barack is a cry baby and a whiner. He will lose ultimately. Once his "people" forget how to vote.

    Go Hillary in 08

    February 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Abe - Madison Wi

    Obama coined the terms "Fired Up" and Yes we Can"?? I suppose next he'll be claiming he invented the Internet too...

    The country deserves better than an empty suit with weak rhetoric – we need a President like Hillary who knows how to lead and has the experience to lead this country.

    February 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. John Q. Public

    Hillary uses Obama's words, Obama uses Patrick's words. This is leftist ideology at its purist – no recognition of intellectual property.

    February 18, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Gaby

    Thank you to AZ for clarifying to those in doubt.

    February 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Jeff K. / Galena, MO

    How petty can this campaign get? It's obvious the Clinton camp feels the heat of defeat breathing down its neck and will try ANYTHING to shift the focus and degrade their opponent in the public's eyes. But to try to do this with a few words that have been used in a speech, or speeches, given is pathetic even for the Clinton machine.

    February 18, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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