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. You Hillary and NOW Plants

    We know it is you making all these lame comment on this site. Why is CNN pro-Obama? Stop the crying and the drama. This is your best aurgement? Way to vote for a canidate's junk.

    Obama 08

    P.S As long as you meanin heart what you say who cares who wrote it.

    February 18, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Peter Cananda 4 Obama!

    Well at least Obama didn't quote any words from her, but I can testify that I have heard Hillary and her fans using Yes We Can on several occasion. You know what, it okay when you ranout of ideas , words and borrow from the best. Hillary there is a saying if you can't beat them you join them, so it is okay you borrow ideas and words from our next president obama. You won't be charged, becuase you used it for a good course.
    Yes We Can.

    I will be mad if I hear Obama using Hillary ideas of taken money from lobbyiest and specail interest. Hillary also copy Obama economic plans. You know what guys it is good hse copied Obama, because it shows Obama is more knowledgeable. Hillary keep copying there more words and ideas from our next President Obama

    February 18, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. JERRAL

    HILLARY
    TAKE YOUR SPOCE AND ALL HIS TOYS AND GO HOME AND CLEAN HOUSE
    WE DON'T WANT THE SAME OLD (SAME OLD)

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Ray - NJ

    I think all of Obama's "catch praises" are stolen from someone else. I mean come on, what has this man done?

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Charlotte

    Plaglarism is all he is, MLKs' "the urgency of now". "I have a dream." Now he is trying to steal Hillarys' plans as his own. Why must he compare himself to others all the time. He is no JFK! He is for change yet has the elders of the party leading him around by the nose and elbow. The status quo in Washington are the Senators that are there now. He is not a uniter, he is a greenhorn with lofty ideas that are nice have but the reality is the status quo will remain intact.

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Emma Becker

    Another example of Sen. Clinton's misguided sense of entitlement, which compares to her demand for weekly debates.

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Jack

    This is all stupid, and even childish on the Obama side...Hillary started her campaign talking about change. Obama stole this issue from her.

    The rally cries are a lot differant from basing you entire retoric on other peoples words. So what if Hillary used fired up, or yes we will? She atleast talks about the issues.

    All canidates borrow slogans. Clinton has always stayed on track with her message and her policy issues. Those that say otherwise are just looking for something to attack.

    The big picture here is that Obama's entire campaign is based on borrowed retoric. Hillary's is not. To try and compare is desperate. The Obama campaign has proven over and over that they are the slickest attack artist ever to grace the american election cycle. Obama is not new, he is not fresh, he is not prepared to do his job in the senate, much less be the leader of the free-world.

    Clinton is not desperate, just fed up with the one-sided treatment in this election. Please, go back to the beginning and tell me how Clinton has changed her policy issues. I dare you. She may have added issues along the ride, but she has always been staedy in her convictions.

    Its easy for us all to hide behind a keyboard and spread lies, but this is too important to continue.

    The Obama people should be asking their own canidate what he stands for other than retoric. At a confrance this weekend, no one I ran across could tell me any thing aboout Obama's record or his stand on the issues. Clinton supporters had detailed reasons why they support her. Thats says a lot.

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. LaVelle Jones

    Hey Joann, do you really think that Clinton said this so no one would see this in the media? That is absurd. Furthermore, Dana said he has no policy or plans, maybe you need to read up more about Obama and his record. Obama is not Clinton where he will say anything to get a vote or say what he thinks we want to here. Have you seen over the past year that his healthcare reform policy has been approved by many of the top experts which also say that it is better than Clintons'? . For all of the people who say Obama needs to stop acting like a little child, you think it is best for someone not to respond to attack after attack after attack? Hillary is getting desperate and she is the one who needs to stick to policies and if she did Obama would not have to defend himself every minute. We are tired of dirty politics and that is why Obama will be the next President of the United States!

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Obama4prez

    Yeah, this is pretty disgusting. Honestly? These two need to seriously tone it down. Has it really come to this?
    On that note, Hillary's been going negative for the entire race. This doesn't surprise me at all. She came out with 3 separate negative ads for Wisconsin alone talking about how Obama wouldn't debate there... even though he agreed to two more and they've already had 18!
    Also, if you don't know Obama's specifics, stop whining and go to his website, rewatch the 18 debates, watch him on meet the press, read his two books....... it's ludicrous. If you don't know his specifics, stop complaining and whining and being LAZY and go pick up some info.
    If Hillary needs to cry to go up in the polls then expect a lot of crying in the white house. Her nomination will get the reps surrounded around McCain against hillary, and if she does manage to pull off a win in november then there's no way she's getting anything done, since noone takes her seriously without Bill and the reps will stop her from getting much done.
    Obama, however, likes to actually work with people. He'll win with a broad base of support.
    Yeah, experience is all well and good. But you're not running to be sole commander of everything USA here, you're running to be a mediator between all three branches. The president has checks and balances for a reason. Obama will achieve much more as president than Hillary will.
    This being said, if Hillary is nominated, I'm voting third party in november. If Obama is elected, Hillary's base of traditional democrats will vote democrat, as they always do, and all will be right with the world.

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Felipe

    Obama is starting to sound like a little boy in kindergarten who is crying because Hillary took his milk. There is no copyright on "catch" phrases. He plagiarized an entire speech, but he turns on Hillary for using his catch phrases. How juvenile. This man is not Presidential material.

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Dan Tampa, FL

    The Obama campaign has issued a statement from Gov. Patrick: “Sen. Obama and I are long-time friends and allies. We often share ideas about politics, policy and language. The argument in question, on the value of words in the public square, is one about which he and I have spoken frequently before. Given the recent attacks from Sen. Clinton, I applaud him responding in just the way he did.”

    February 18, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Russell Tupper

    “It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

    So much for Hillary's "expereince and wisdom" argument.

    And no, I'm not citing the author. Look it up.

    February 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. Ryan

    THERE WE GO AGAIN WITH A NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN FROM HILLARY SIDE. SHE KNOWS HOW BAD SHE IS DOING, BESIDES BEIND DESPERATE FOR POWER......WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS?
    EVEN IF MRS CLINTON WOULD WIN (IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN)
    AT THIS POINT I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR SOMEONE WITH SUCH
    BAD ATTITUDE. I GUESS I CAN SEE WHY THE SCANDALS HAPPEN IN THE PAST IN THE WHITE HOUSE WHEN THE HUSBAND WAS THE PRESIDENT.........YOU BETTER CHANGE BECAUSE WE ALL WILL RUN AWAY.

    February 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. law

    Hillary is a copy cat from the begginging of this campaign!
    She said bad things about "speeches" then she copies it. How interesting.

    February 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. As

    The reason Hillary always wins in debates is because she is a master at public speaking. Trust me she doesn't need to borrow anything Obama is saying..this article just made me laugh. Is this cnn or the onion?

    February 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Bill

    Stupid to give this so much press..I was a Obama supporter but the more I listen to his economic platform I'm beginning to think he's a socialist. He is much too far to the left, I believe. He gives great speeches and his vision of hope in wnderful but the more I read and listen to him I worry about his economic policies..

    February 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. frank

    You people have got to be kidding me. By you people, I mean the rabid Obama and Clinton supporters who are going to ensure that the Republicans remain in power for another four years. Do you even hear yourselves. "Obama did it first!" "Hillary is a whiner!" You guys will be the very reason John Mcain will steal this election out from under us. There is more politcal in-fighting going on within our own party than against the Republicans. I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton, but I will cast my vote for her come November should she win the nomination because my gut tells me that if she should win this, she's a smart enough woman to know it was by the slimmest of margins and that she may not get a 2nd chance. She will do everything she can to hold onto that power. That means listening to the the people that help put her there. With that being said, I would like to see Obama as President because of the same reasons it's my personal opinion he gives us the best chance at the White House but it doesn't mean I'm going to support the Republicans by voting for them or abstaining just because my candidate didn't get the nod. Grow up people!

    February 18, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Leslie Somerville, Seattle, Washington

    Who cares!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. JJ

    This sounds like a simple case of borrowing simalar ideas about a specific argument both men where being accused of. Maybe if they where not friends it would be different. Hillary Clinton is such a frign snake! SHE WILL SAY OR DO ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED!!

    February 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Dave

    Obama is not hope, he is just another politician and he will lie just like every other polician. Why isn't media going after Obama and his family like Clintons. Is it because he is black? One thing is clear, I still don't know his plan as such how can you have hope when you have no idea what he plans to do?

    February 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Felipe

    OBAMA TOOK AN ENTIRE SPEACH FROM DAVOL PATRICK, MAYBE THIS IS WHY HE ENDORSED HIM QUICKLY. ABC HAS SOMETHING UP THAT OBAMA AND DAVOL PATRICK SPEACHES ESPECIALLY IN THE LAST YEAR SOUND VERY MUCH ALIKE. WOW OBAMA YOU ARE A PHONY

    February 18, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Marsh

    This is a lose-lose proposition and exactly the kind of Democratic back-bitting the Republicans are wishing for. Obama and Clinton have got to stay on the issues.

    February 18, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Tina

    well I think that using "fired up" and ready to go" is a little more understandable than spitting out the exact pace and language from a speech. Obama doesn't have a rights to the phrase "ready to go" I mean come on...he just looks stupid.

    February 18, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Mike

    Unfortanately Obama's camp must respond to this. Remember what happend to Kerry when his camp did not respond, he got swift voted...

    Obama 08

    February 18, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. John in Columbus, OH

    Desperate in Wisconsin.

    First they say words don't matter then complain about words.

    Oops, I guess words do matter.

    The Clintons keep getting it wrong. Just like in South Carolina.

    The wheels are coming off the Clinton wagon.

    February 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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