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. Zilpha

    To those who think that this discussion is childish: Plagiarism and co-opting ideas may be just words, but they are a reflection of something greater: character. When someone (Mr. O) puts himself out there as a non-gameplayer, but stoops to exactly the same thing that everyone else is doing, he's no longer a representative of change and should lose THAT co-opted slogan!

    February 18, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. steven j stevens


    February 18, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. RSP

    CNN Moderator:

    Thank you for providing balanced posts, both for Clinton and Obama. The Democratic Party is equally divided between these candidate, and I think posting equal remarks better reflects the public at large. For awhile there, it was 90% Obama supporters, which means they have the time to blog on the CNN.com website while everyone else is working, or the moderators at CNN.com are pro-Obama.

    Many of these posts aren't articulate, but as long as they are balanced, it serves both parties.

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. LaVelle Jones

    Dirty Politics as usual by the Clinton campaign, that is why Americans see through this and will vote for Obama! Obama has his own mind and soul and for Hillary to do this the DAY before an election to try and attack Obama with more negativity is hillarious, but sad. Especially when she has been copying many of Obama's slogans and ideas! Phony and Fake Hillary back at work again! And the country see it! GO OBAMA!!! YES WE CAN!

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Jim in NJ

    Hillary can fix it? None of the above can fix it, and especially NOT HIllary.

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Chanda -Cincinnati

    This has gone beyond ridiculous. Clinton keeps talking that Obama is just speeches...so now she has to try and discredit those as well. I have never liked anyone who has to put someone else down to make themselves look better. She has not learned anything, and most importantly, she is not listening to the American public who keeps asking her to stop the negativity. She is the one acting like a child. Obabma just comes out in defense. He does not start the bullcrap, but he has every right to defend himself against it. Thats law 101. If you introduce something into evidence, prepare to be cross examined. Obama/Edwards '08, '12, and I wish '16. GET A LIFE HILLARY CAMP!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. george charles paree

    starts with my working in south chicago for unitrd states steel this company had 34000 employes two years later they were down to 5500 so please ask obama what help he has given. My three children an wife lived on 99.00 a week for 16 weeks this feed pay rent get in my car an find another job ask them what help he gave us . A person can get ahead by liying for only utill you reporters start looking to this lie .

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. James

    It comes down to a CREDIBILITY problem........the CLINTONS have none. They can't point there finger at anyone for any thing , because they have four pointing right back at them.

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. CJ

    Do you really want either of these 2 pathetic candidates running our country? I could see it now... some country threatens the US and either one of them would cry and moan to the UN about hurt feelings. Go McCain

    February 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. H


    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  11. Lory

    It is time to reject this man who pretends to be going to make the right decision on Day One, but who is slowly but surely turning out to be doing so after plagiarizng the decision of his political friends who exchange words like sporting table tennis (ping pong) to the pathetic delight of Obama supporters. Is that the American idea of a President of the US? For our rest and peace of mind, Hillary is the safe and rational choice.

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  12. Austin Hispanic 4 Hillary!

    I believe great leaders excel in the art of communication. Hillary has the ability to speak confidently on her feet on a consistent basis. She is precise, confident and poised. She doesn’t need to try to be “someone else” or “borrow” another leader’s speech or style.

    Speaking of “borrowing” Obama and his campaign has borrowed the slogan Si se Puede. This was the motto of the United Farm Workers. In 1972 Cesar Chavez’s 25th day fast in Phoenix, Arizona, he and UFW”s co-founder, Dolores Huerta come up with the slogan. The UFW union has endorsed Hillary as Ms. Huerta and Chavez’s brother also have and speak at events. On Saturday Ms. Huerta spoke at the Austin Hillary headquarters. Not once but TWICE. If anyone should be entitled to use the slogan to honor Chavez’s legacy it is the Clinton campaign! What's he done for the UFW union?

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  13. Truth hurts

    The Clinton camp is dragging this race just where they're comfortable: in the gutters. Clinton is a synonym with cheap political tricks. Senator Clinton, just bow out gracefully and go work on your failed 90's healthcare plan!

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. Kyle


    Not only doesn't Obama's speeches include any policy, they don't include anything from Obama himself.

    Yeah, this is change we can believe in.

    Milli Vanilli for President.

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. Jereme

    I agree this is getting a bit petty, but I think Obama would be much more attractive as a candidate without his campaign manager (David Plouffe) always baiting the media or other presidential contenders (on both sides of the aisle). He is defeating party unity more than either candidate.

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Dinesh

    This is ridiculous. Hillary, I really could care less about what line Obama took from his supporter. It clearly helped him explain the situation. I am sick of this meaningless attacks and I think you should just stop right now. Desperation is no excuse for meaningless accusation. Go back to the 90's where you belong

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Paul

    Look at all the hate this Obama man and his Obamabots stirs up? Wake up America, this is just the beginning. If you vote for the cult of Obama you will ruin this country.

    February 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Ilse

    Gabi, you said Obama is a man of his word, did not campaign in Florida. Where have you been? Obama ran ads in Florida and for that he should be penalized. But did anybody criticize him for that? Nooooo. Oh, yah, they were national ads and couldn't be extracted for Florida. What a joke. At least Hillary went only after the polls closed and thanked the voters for their support. She kept her word. Obama thought he could sneek one in without CNN, MSNBC, FOX noticing it. God help us all if he becomes our next president. Oh wait, not to worry... McCain will stop him by eating him alive.

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Andy

    Why are these little spats making any headlines.
    The fact is the Hillary just has too much baggage; the name tag on this baggage is Bill.
    The Republicans can just start with the impeachment and White Water.
    I do not want another term with Hillary & Bill Clinton as a co-president.
    As first lady, Hillary tried for health care in 1992 and failed.
    Obama can win in November; Hillary can not. This is all that should matter for democrats.

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. viv

    I am angry at the way everyone is talking, we are in a state of turmoil and reading the comments makes see more ofhow this world is divided and I can guarantee we as americans are being made fun of. I am upset with the fact that we are all upset and fearul of reliving the bush years through someone else. I am willing to take a risk on someone new and fresh because we need to go in another direction. Hilliary clinton has made alot of deals with the republicans in government and legislation if they help her get into office. we all need to pay attention to the truth and not focus on who is copying who, she has alot of pull due to bill being in office .so keep in mind this woman is desperate and she is making all kinds o promises under the sun to get into office. I am a independent so I am researching alot before I place my vote. I am willing to get out of my comfort zone and vote for someone new because we are definitely headed into a recession and need to know that someone is willing to think of the american people.

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. d

    VOTE Mc Cain !!!

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Joseph

    Dino IL February 18th, 2008 1:06 pm ET

    This is pretty petty on both candidates part…I just wonder if too much damage has not already been done.
    Clinton supporters, if Obama wins the nomination will you choose to vote for McCain? If not, how can you support someone that you villify so readily?
    Obama supporters, what if Hillary comes back to win, whether thru the popular vote or due to superdelegates support? Will you find it possible to campaign as vigorously for her as you have for Obama?
    If you can't answer yes to these questions, then I think Mccain is a shoe in and you can all blame yourselves for that.

    I am an Independent supporter of Obama. That is the key difference in the two candidates bases of support.

    Obama has a large number of Independent and Republican support that Hillary simply does not and likely will not carry into a general election. Whereas, I think most of Hillary's base Democrats, are lese likely to cross party lines and vote for McCain over Obama.

    I think that this is shown by the general election poll numbers.

    Personally my vote goes to McCain should Clinton win the dem nomination by hook or by crook.

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. Dan

    His is frankly juvenile. Grow up, people.

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. james

    What's the big deal here? Don't most candidates get their speeches written for them by speech writers anyway? So technically everyone is pretty much borrowing from someone else all the time, if you want to get technical with it.

    I think it's time to address the real issues of our country instead of finding petty, and in the big picture insignificant, things to argue about.

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Mike, MD

    YOU BILLARY supporters are full of it!!

    This women help authorized a failed WAR because it was popular to do so!!

    This Women authorized a failed bankruptcy bill because it was popular to do so!!

    But yet you support her. IT is not because of the issues!! The same go for all the Latinos voters!!




    FALL HARD FOR THE SAME (Clinton's)!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
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