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. James, Boston

    I still have no idea how informed people can support the Clintons. From their hypocracy to their flagrant disregard to the first ammendment (sanction against the NBC Reporter for his comment against Chelsey) they are complete con-artists who rely on mis-information and gullibility to glorify themselves.

    Hillary has not done one positive thing during her short tenure as senator, let alone the previous 20some years that she boasts experience for. Nor has she actually come up with a plan to fix anything.

    She really is ready to lead us in the wrong direction from day one.

    February 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Henani from Hawaii

    I am officially tired of Obama now. I liked him when he was the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention, but he's really gotten a big head and high opinion of himself lately.
    I know my state will probably vote for him because they think he's a "native son"– which is a crock. Maybe he was "born" here, but he only lived here part time a couple of different times (and his Mom collected welfare & food stamps while he went to a pricey private school). He lived in Indonesia too when he was a small kid– does that make him Indonesian?

    But I'm growing weary of Obama's fake persona, and I will vote for Hillary because I don't think I can handle 4 years of another talking head.

    February 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. KIM

    I think the media coverage is out of hand. Why dont you stick to the issues instead. It's terrible that we have to even be bothered with these headlines – "TMI"

    February 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. paul in pittsburgh

    Caesar Chavez: "Si se puede!" (yes we can!)

    obama's entire campaign has been borrowed from hundreds of different people, none to whom he has given any credit whatsoever. he talks a good game, Hillary Clinton plays a good game


    February 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. TerryD


    Barack Hussein Obama and his campaign adviser have from the beginning of his run for the Democratic leadership, have plagiarized Senator Hillary R Clinton's ideas on healthy care, economy, ending the war in Iraq.

    She has been talking about these issues for years because she new she was going to run for the Presidency and we all new that even though she was reticient to speak about these plans to early .

    Obama's supporters, not only have copied and waterdown her substantial solutions, they have also paid big money to get her past campaign advisers, to try to find out "What makes Hillary Run" (smile)

    Now watch how they study and plagiarize her 13 page Blue Economic plan and how she plans to turn the economy around.

    Listen carefully America to the "yes, we can" Obama slogans, in essence it will state:

    "Yes, we can, adopt and carry out all of the plans in Hillary R Clinton's economy plan.

    There new slogan should read; "Yes, we can Plagiarize. Yes, we can indeed"!

    February 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  6. Leonard

    Clinton just used Obama's words for her health care plan. "I will make sure you have the health care the same as that of me as a senator. "

    I see no problem for copying, as long as you know what is right and what is wrong. Don't you think it is to the interest of our country if they could copy each other's shining part on important issues.

    The problem is that can she copy his honest, and inspirational character?

    February 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Diva in Philadelphia, PA

    ***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!***

    ABG, if you read anything about him, you would KNOW what change he has enacted. As a community organizer, he was able to bring the SEEMINGLY basic needs of the people to Altgeld projects. This was a place in utter disrepair with some of the most hopeless, unmotivated residents around. He turned it around for these people, ask THEM what change he has enacted. From the city to the state to the national level, he HAS in fact, enacted change... I'm tired of the people taking what is SPOON FED to them as truth without FACT CHECKING!!! So what, he took some words WITH PERMISSION? How many people quote these EXACT famous lines ALL THE TIME? They are all inspirational and I personally see his point. AND, if this is the only part of the speech everyone is up in arms about and Governer Patrick didn't care, what does it matter? Besides, people WRITE these speeches for BOTH candidates, so if the writer worked on BOTH campaigns, can he really plagarize his OWN words??? Just a thought...

    OBAMA in '08!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Carol for Hillary!

    Obama copies ideas as well as speeches. In May 2007, Hillary introduced a comprehensive Gulf Coast Recovery Agenda. Three months later (in August) Obama released a VERY similar proposal. On 2/708, he 'introduced' the same plan he released in August.

    Need another example? In his economic address in Wisconsin 2/13/08 Obama proposed an "infrastructure bank" to finance infrastructure projects. Back in August 2007, Hillary had already co-sponsored the National Infrastructure Bank Act establishing a federally backed independent bank to evaluate and finance large infrastructure projects.

    This guy has no substance. NO HE CAN'T.

    We need a LEADER, not a talker who steals ideas. Hillary gets my vote.

    February 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Tom

    "There is nothing new under the sun."

    Don't we have bigger, more important issues to discuss?

    Shame on us all for even taking the time...

    February 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Defiant Rican? Wow...

    February 18th, 2008 12:48 pm ET

    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

    Once his "people" forget how to vote? So many responses to such ignorance. I am glad that you're going for Hilary. With comments such as that, you seem to fit the "profile" for a Hilary supporter, and I'm sure that Senator Obama would not want your support.

    February 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Moey

    I am so tired of Hillary talking about the fact that Obama only "makes speeches." Well the few speeches I have had time to listen to in their entirety seem to point out some very specific issues he would address in his presidency. However, he does not delineate exactly how he would pay for the various proposals; I would like to know that.

    Why has no reporter asked Hillary the Million Dollar question: ARE YOU GOING TO ASK BILL CLINTON TO RUN AS YOUR VICE PRESIDENT????

    I have never heard it asked, nor have I heard it discussed except on my local CBS station where they confirmed there is nothing to preclude her from doing so. I would think this would be a hot issue for discussion everywehre. Thanks. Moey

    February 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I don't know why Clinton would be complaining, didn't she say his words were empty????

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Wilders conscience

    Dont a be fake God, be a truthful human first. Can any Obama supporter negate any points below by putting their hand on their heart?

    Obama lied about:

    a) lobbyist (state over federal, we value state corruption more than federal corruption now in America?)
    b) Exelon bribe (apart from Exelon being one of the highest contributor to Obama, they also paid David Axelrod a "consulting" fee..also called bribery fee in other countries)
    c) Energy bill with Dick Cheney (feeding his cousins so called ties with pork for lobbyist in that bill..Hillary voted against it because of Dick Cheney lobbyist)
    d) Triangulating (when he himself was triangulating on national TV on drivers license)
    e) His Rezko relationship (5 hrs work, who believes?)
    f) His past beliefs (which allowed the rumors to float)
    g) Social Security (he changed his position 3 times in 2007).

    If anyone thinks a charismatic liar can be a transcending figure, then I will call him a cult member. Liar's charisma is fool's paradise. Bill Clinton was a charismatic figure too and yes he lied too. Look he couldn't become transcending. Only difference, Obama started with lies, Bill ended with lies. So Obama can never achieve what Bill achieved.

    Obama is just another Bill Clinton-like, just 16 years later. If anyone is saying something different, he/she is lying or being a big hypocrite.

    My only problem with Obama is that he is a liar like any other politician.

    Obama is not a truthful human being. I hope he was.

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. Damage is done

    Cry baby Obama, the damage is done, stop trying to spin your way out of this one.

    This is a small taste of what the republicans would do to him. HRC has been vetted, the RNC has spent over $100 Million and she's still here.

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Tom Bergeron

    I would like a answer from all the candiates on their view of a flat tax and getting rid of the IRS.

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Daniel J. Olexia

    It takes the press. I Know! all hogwash

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Robert V

    So let me see this, copying a speech word by word now is equivalent to using a common phrase, “we are fired up”? So Obama has trade marked “we are fired up”? Does that mean I cannot say it? Is this pathetic or what. I knew he was an empty suit, but now it turns out his words are not even his to begin with!! This is sp pathetic!

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Peter Cananda 4 Obama!

    If you think Obama is good enogh as the best candidate, you should come out and be a candidate yourself. Am tired of false accusations he no plan, he is hot air, he did that he did this. stop for God sake.

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. Tom

    I'm glad to see that the campaigns are now reaching for the lowest common denominator. Come on Clinton and Obama. You both should know better...

    February 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Nick

    Is the CLINTON machine going nuts?!

    They are finding faults in Obama's speech now. What about all that 'Experience' and 'Solutions' that Clinton offer's. Why cant they stick to policy difference's. Is this the kind of negativity that comes with EXPERIENCE and Is this the SOLUTION to win the seat to become the President.

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

    Hey CNN...stop reporting the blatant Obama plagurism so softly. Move that story up front and stop spinning it with comments from the Obama camp. The real story is he lifted the whole "Yes we can" and more. Just report it.

    February 18, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Joe

    actually joann, it was 'rival campaign that preferred not to be named' that broke the story. hmm, i wonder which campaign that could be.

    Also, "just taking it like a man" is what got Kerry defeated in '04. When you're up against a callous and immoral attack machine (like the republicans/clintons) your only chance is to take on each attack that they perpetrate and respond quickly, honestly, and effectively. Thats what he did in response to the very first negative ad of the Democratic primary to date, and thats what he'll continue to do against her and then against McCain.

    February 18, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. FormerClintonFan

    I was going to vote for Clinton, but I've finally had enough. Although I am disgusted that Obama retaliated, she started, and quite frankly I'm sick of it. Hopefully, Obama won't do something similar, or I guess I'll be voting for McCain.

    February 18, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    So the great speaker Obama is actually the great plagiarizer of Deval Patrick's speeches? Folks need to seriously consider this and send him packing.

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

    And Obama lifted his "Yes, We Can" fro Bob the Builder, my two little kids hero 🙂

    February 18, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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