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. dan agbada

    It is time for African-American, OBAMA-08 ! God bless America !!

    February 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Matt A.

    I'm shocked by the audacity and brazeness of the arrogance of Obama's campaign of claiming ownership of the phrases "Yes we can" and "We're fired up, ready to go".

    I first heard those phrases playing high school varsity basketball in a developing country in the 1960's before I legally immigrated here in 1981.

    That's probably an indication of the changes their campaign is talking about. Good bye 21st century hello 1960's. I have very fond memories of the 60s but not probably the move for America.

    Matt A, , Florida

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. James

    This has got to be the most childish blog on the net.

    GROW UP

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Herman Tibbs

    I am sure that Barack loved his mother and am very sorry he lost her to cancer. It is a terrible way to die. I love mine as much and she is a survivor.

    Although he approves of the TV messages where she is mentioned, she should be allowed to rest in peace, not the object of political gain.

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Katmido

    Hillary: It took one Clinton to clean up after a Bush, it will take another Clinton to clean up after this Bush

    What Obama should have said: "Cleaning up is fine Hillary, but I want to RENOVATE the place. Rennovation through Innovation"

    Sen. Obama. You didn't say that but you have my permission to use it in your speeches pro bono!

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Valerie

    Plagiarism isn't borrowing language... it's stealing written research and words. The spoken word is no one's property.

    Other than that, I don't really care much. McCain has borrowed language from Obama's campaign, too... whatever!

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. honest

    Billary AND THEIR SUPPORTERS.......GET THIS STRAIGHT......

    hillary will never...repeat...never be elected president!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If she gets the nomination, Democrats lose no questions asked.

    Go negative and criticise all you want...OBAMA is the better candidate.

    Even if it is time for a woman president, it CAN NVER be hillary because of her hidden scandals and by the way why can't she release her Tax Returns????
    Are we so stupid to wait till she gets the nomination before she releases the Tax Returns? What is she hiding???????

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. magie

    Yes, you can, and yes we can .... are BOB THE BUILDER (a cartoon) logo.

    Yes, Obama has used it, and telling that it is a signature of Obama's campaign, it does not correspond to reality. I am glad that lack of originality of Obama becomes clear. He borrows lines from many historical figures, and indeed he does not have much of his own to show!

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Marie

    This is stupid. If you look at the speech, he did NOT steal or borrow an entire speech from anybody. With respect to ONE part of his speech, the part responding to Hillary's attacks on his oratory, he borrowed the "just words" concept. However, the "just words" concept really is a repeating of famous lines. Neither Patrick nor Obama added much. "Just words, insert MLK, Just words, insert RFK, Just words, insert Reagan." There's nothing to steal really.

    Now, if you show me that Obama or Hillary stole a substantive idea. Stole a healthplan, an economic plan, or something like that, then I'd care.

    Hillary is a cry baby. Obama says "Yes, we can." She says, "Yes, we will." Neither one originated either concept. Come on people.

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Clint

    Hillary Clinton: "If you want somebody that was against the war vote or says it was a mistake, then you should go vote for somebody else"

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. AK

    Without a shadow of doubt, both are 'polarizing' figures in the current political scenario. Sometimes I wonder whether they are even from the same party. I have started to dislike both of them. My independent vote will either go for a republican... or none... if these guys don't grow up.

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Coby Austin, Tx.

    Kat,
    How is it Obama sounds like a small child in defending himself but its ok for Hillary to sound like a small child by bringing it up in the first place. How is having that double standard ok. Anytime Obama defends himself from the DESPERATE tactics of the Clinton campaign he's wining. Give me a break! You're just as sorry as the Clintons.

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Jay

    I believe that it is a great that Obama has a good response team because the Clintons are getting desperate. At first the got the man who is responsible for tainting a whole black generation to speak on their behalf. As a matter of fact, that's what turned me off from the Clintons, I'm black and I actually hate BET, and now this thing about his speeches. It is obvious that th Clintons are attacking his strength as a last stand to get the nomination.

    Give up Clintons. It's OVA.

    February 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Angela Johnson

    Gee, last week she was whining look at his record, the media like him better so they are being nicer to him. This week it's you are stealing my words and my ideas and people are still being mean to me. I wish Obama would not have to sink to the Clinton's level but as many of us know they will do and say anything to win so he has no choice but to respond. Well as usual the Democrats will blow what should be a blow out election against Mcain because the leaders of the party are too disorganized to come up with a cohesive message and plan to persuade moderates and independents to vote Democrat. So by the time the convention rolls around we will look stupid and incompetent–again!

    February 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. JJ

    Seems like neither of these candidates is smarter than a fifth grader.
    This is really sad and disgusting.
    Obama is no different from any other politician and I don't know why people are treating him like he's the immaculate conception.
    Hillary needs to show her warmth and ability and stop playing into Obama's words. We all know it's easy to say the words, it is another thing to do the deeds. The only deeds I see right now are finger pointing and empty promises. Obama is as divisive as people accuse Hillary of being and it's time to get real folks or we get McCain who is just more George W. Bush. Clinton/Obama is the dems only hope of winning.

    February 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Michael

    Does this surprise anyone? Democrats–Biden, Clinton, Obama–have to borrow rhetoric to bolster their dearth of ideas.

    February 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. Bruno

    What about Hillary and McCain stealing Obama's lines?
    No problem with that, right?
    Hypocrites.

    Italy for Obama.

    February 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Rick

    If you look at Hillary over the last couple of months since Iowa, you will see more and more that she has patterned herself like Obama to confuse and hide the truth of her campaign from the american people. Watch her make backroom deals to become the nominee and corupt the entire democratic process.

    February 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Matt

    go hillary. you re' a solution person. Gods bless you and American.

    February 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Viola

    Okay this is getting way too petty.....stick to the issues PEOPLE.....

    February 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. kristen

    he said, she said. isn't there more important things to argue about!

    February 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Coby Austin, Tx.

    You name one politician who hasn't used the words of past speeches in their own speech. Stop crying about stupid isht.

    February 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. GO Hillary!

    YES WE WILL!!!!!! YES WE DID!!!!! hey that's one Obama can't say when it comes to solid-useful change and experience!

    February 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Kelsey

    Would both the Clinton camp and the Obama camp SHUT UP!! I support Obama and consider myself a liberal democrat but these catty fights are pissing me off. Do we want to unite the party? Then shut up, stick to why YOU should be President, not why your opponent shouldn't be. jeez... do we really want the country to go to McCain over petty things like this??

    February 18, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Frank

    Why does anyone act like Obama's being childish here? Clinton's making a ridiculous attack. He's responding maturely. There's nothing wrong with "these two," just her.

    February 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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