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 S

    Oh man now is where it gets silly. I am an Obama supporter but I am also glad to see the press digging in on him now. Of course if a few cribbed lines that are shared between two (and this story was already done a YEAR ago by the Boston Globe about Obama and Patrick sharing lines) friends I'm pretty confident in my choice to support Obama.

    February 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. tj

    How is this Hillary's fault?

    February 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Thursday

    I see why the republicans hate the Clintons......all that negativity is enough to turn anybody off....

    February 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. right source

    All of you are blickering like the ones you are referring to. So ALL of you need to grow up.

    February 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. Karen

    Obama is a baby! He needs to grow up and stop making excuses. He has yet to discuss political issues. He doesn't seem to know what's going on in the world. He wants to ride his wave into the White House and think that this song in dance is going to keep the world at peace. Someone please give him a speech on what his plan is for this country.

    February 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. JohnS

    I guess this is HOW Hillary knows how to fight! Is this how Hillary and her surrogates have been TESTED? This issue so childish that it will soon start to TURN OFF independents like me who are out there for the Dems. Give it up, if Hillary was going to win this nomination, she would have done so before NOW. Each day, her chances gets SMALLER and smaller. She cannot afford to downhill with the Dem party!

    February 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. al

    The thing here is Obama supporters like him becayse they say he is inspirational,but this shows that he is only misleading the public.At least quote your sources,I would have more respect for him if he did so.

    February 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. george charles paree

    why is know one checking obamas bull about helping steelworkers if he gets away wiyh this lie the country is going to worse off please have reporter check these facts

    February 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Grey

    I agree, stick to important issues like viability.

    If Hillary is to remain viable, she'll need to show her official tax returns like everyone else. Anything other than a tax return would disqualify her from the race.

    This should not have to wait until March – people are starting to believe that she is hiding something from the American people. If she wants to start improving her credibility/viability then she'll submit her actual tax return like everyone else .

    February 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Dave

    To obama supporters: blind following the blind!

    February 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. George

    If we really want this country to go ahead then we really need to have a leader who`s has been tested allready.

    February 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Jack

    How is Clinton to blame for any of this. Obama does not own general generic phrases. If so, maybe he should copywrite them.

    Hillary never said words are not important. She said words without a plan to back them up are only words.

    Obama took the change message from Hillary.

    Obama supporters have no clue about his record, and most bother to attack Clinton instead of asking srious questions.

    Hillary has not changed her position on issues from day one. She has been solid and its the media, not Hillary who is playing these games with everyone.

    Obama lacks true experiance. He needs more time. He should not threaten his supporters to get their vote. He and wife have repeated many time if its not now its never. This man should care more about the people and less about his ego. I want a person who is willing to continue on, even if he loses.

    Hillary gets knocked on every issue. 9 times out of 10, its biased or out right lies. I think the people who hate her so much need a reality check and should really look in a mirror before they cast the next stone.

    February 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Bruno

    Why are people making such a big deal about this?
    Hillary stole Obama's lines, McCain did too.
    But with a diference, Obama was "authorized" by Mr. Patrick to do so, but Hillary and McCain where not authorized to steal Obama's lines. And Hillary stole Edwards lines as well.

    Stop with the nonsense Hillary, please. I still have a little bit of respect for you. But you are grasping at straws.

    Italy for Obama

    February 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. J. in PA

    We have reached new lows in political absurdity. Are we running for President of the United States or President of the Student Council?
    I am an Obama supporter who is more than willing to say that Obama needs to stay above this if he wants to keep his clear message of a new kind of politics.
    I am sorry to say that I just expect this from the Clintons...

    February 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Matt

    Obama: "As I said before, I really don't think this is too big of a deal."

    Of course it's a big deal. You've been exposed as a liar and a thief! As a student I can say without hesitation that this kind of behavior would result in a failing grade at the least and suspension/expulsion at most.

    February 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. marge

    How "petty" is this from both sides????
    It was the Clinton campaign that informed the media,which makes them look even more desperate than first believed. What's sad is the media has actually moved on LOL! they are NOT reporting this as being a big story or big deal...LOL!LOL!
    I'm sure this gives the Billary supporters something to talk about,since they can't very well talk about her recent victories.
    She is still 8-0 you know!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Obama 08

    We need something new and we are tired of BUSH -CLINTON-BUSH -CLINTON and in 4 years Clinton again( Chelsea) – america not only for you guys
    Go Obama for Change – Take your chance!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Karen From Houston

    This is really sad that Hillary would stoop to this level of pettiness. NO Candidate is speaking their OWN WORDS. ALL OF THEM HAVE SPEECH WRITERS. Which is why Hillary delivers her speeches so dry and uneventfully because they are NOT HER WORDS but what the campaign thinks is best said in each particular State.

    This is REALLY SAD but the GOOD NEWS IS – after this year, we should NEVER HAVE TO HEAR FROM THE CLINTONS AGAIN! May they both go home, retire and LET CHELSEA HAVE A LIFE OF HER OWN FOR ONCE.


    February 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Captain America

    Obama should come up with new phrase endings...

    How about, "Let's make like a tree and leave?"

    February 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Felipe


    February 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Grow up all of you!

    Okay, enough is enough!

    To both sides, Hillary supporters and Obama supporters, for your own sake, stop this non-sense bashing of one another. It will only make the republicans stronger.

    Take a look at some of these comments:
    "Hillary has no experience, she's a liar, deceitful, bla bla bla.."
    "Obama is all words, he's full of hot air, bla, bla bla"

    The truth is they are both about the same:

    Not that trustworthy,
    Have something up their sleeves,
    both have lied at one point or another,
    both have been unfair
    Both have some voting records they are not proud of

    They are both attacking one another and guess what people? They'll probably surprise all of us at the end and end up great political buddies.

    So STOP wasting your breath and quit making the other democrats angry.

    This is pathetic. All Hillary supporters say they won't vote for Obama and the Obama supporters say they won't vote for Hillary.

    You are all going to LOSE! to the republicans. So, fine, don't vote for them and we'll end up in war for 100 years, we'll keep taxes high for the poor and low for the wealthy, healthcare will remain as horrible as it is now, our reputation around the world will keep deteriorating, we'll all be drafted for war and continue living in "fear" of terrorism!

    Is that what all of you want??

    Stop this NOW, quit insulting one another for supporting another candidate. We want a democrat in office. All this political bashing is a part of the game and you are all hurting the democratic party by this childish non-sense.

    Democrat 08

    February 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Roni

    Obama, why do you respond to critism in this manner? I yeah you aren't good at handling criticism, right! I heard that speech in Wisconsin and yes, it would have taken like 2 seconds to say " My good ole friend once said..." but you could say that and now your camp is claiming that she stole" Yes We Can" from YOU when that wasn't even YOURS to take??!!!!

    Same ole politician to me. I am thinking twice about voting for you, Sir.

    February 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Dan

    I thought you didn't care about speeches Hillary? So far, I'm pretty sure arguing about this is no solution.

    Obama 08!

    February 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. PT

    Are you kidding??!! This is not borrowing a word or two. This is an entire speech. This is plagiarism, pure and simple! This guy has no integrity!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. BigC in DC

    A new Clintion Support

    Hi Joe

    To answer you question! this goes back to the issue of trust between the two candidates If you are Obama and you cannot reply on your own ability to create inspire the American people? The big question is who is this person? What do you stand for; please do not tell me what I want to just hear. America deserves from the next president. This applies to both candidates. I need a president to restore honor and respect too our once great country. I like senator Obama but, I know a hustle when I see it and hear it. I have always followed gut feelings and for one thing that I don’t need my president to inspire me; I have my own faith in god to inspire me. God empowers us in a way that no politicians will every due. We need some with experience in a president sadly enough for the democratic nominee like it our not Senator Clinton has that edge.

    Clinton 2008

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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