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. Darrell Stichler - PA

    All I can say is how desperate of a measure is this from the Clinton campaign?

    How pathetic, is this what you really want in office for four to eight years?

    (I hope nobody else said that before or Hillary will be all over me too)

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. John J

    I'm ready from day one.I'm a solution.It's rethoric.

    It's a stupid mantra from hillary. you don't prove anything same like


    Really...why she crack under pressure? easily to cry.what a shame.

    Chief of staff of United States of America don't cry in Live telecast.

    Hillary is nothing if no Bill clinton around.

    Seems like Obama have to fight with two presidential candidates(Bill and Hillary)

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. robincoop

    For those who are criticzing Obama...may I suggest you check out a website titled "Friends of Bill"...after reviewing that website...then decide if you truly want 4 more years of the Clinton's in the white House.

    After I reviewed it...theres no way I would ever even consider voting for Hillary

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. gurarro

    Gee whiz. Is this all CNN has to report? This is the pettiest of the petty. There are only so many words in the English language and only a small portion of them are motivational when placed in a phase. Please spend some time on posting something that matters from both campigns.

    Oh yeah. OBAMA! 08!

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  5. Travis Van Winkle

    There is a big difference between Hillary using common phrases like "Fired Up", which I use about 10 times a day and Barak using several sentences word for word from his "friend"'s speech from 2006!! Sounds to me like he just showed his true colors....same old Washington politics...and business as usual in Washington. If he wants to sell his campaign on the theory that he is about change we can believe in I would suggest he come up with some original thoughts to use in response to the Clinton Campaign. If he can't come up with his own thoughts on something this simple it is no wonder his healthcare plan leaves 15 million people uninsured.

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Amy

    I am that the media has picked this up. What saddens me most is the media (including majority of CNN's analysts) giving a positive spin to Obama and discounting everything about Hillary by ending it with a negative spin (especially Gloria Borges and Rollin(?)). President Bush won on his ability to reach across the aisle. That is a big talking point for Senator Obama. In Washington politics this is a big unknown.

    The country has too many problems to gamble on an unknown. The media would have to be blamed if Senator Obama is elected because of its positive spin on Senator Obama and the unknown turns out to be bad for the country. We have experienced a Clinton presidency which was great. The media is discounting that as well in its effort to support the rhetoric. WAKE UP, AMERICA!

    PS. Senator Obama WOULD be a great Vice President !

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. JB

    OOP, Go after McCain

    He used "Fired Up Ready to GO."

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Enrique

    Hillary has certainly never borrowed language or ideas from anyone. Right?

    February 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. LIZ

    Let's see.... Yes we Can is from Cesar Chavez. Africans are holding up signs for Obama. I thought this was an election about the United States of America –its problems and ways to solve them–not for most popular "candidate" in Africa or South America...

    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Jude Nkama

    Obama copied nothing. If I said "I havd a dream, " so I plagiarised MLK. Come on Wolf Blitzer & company!!! The Clintons have found another good distraction!!! HILARY IS A SORRY CANDIDATE. I HOPE SHE CRIES AGAIN TODAY, THERE IS ANOTHER PRMARY TOMORROW!!!! CRY HILARY CRY!!!!


    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Mary

    If they are repeating each others buzz, so what?...Why don't they just become one ticket and put us all out of imagined misery...We're all getting fed up with 'He said' 'She said'.

    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Maria

    Not so fast, Kathleen. It's not over until it's over.

    Hillary '08

    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Brian


    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. snackboy

    Honestly, CNN, please get control of yourselves. It would seem in the quest for 24/7 news, you guys are grasping at straws in the bottom of the barrel, and essentially belittling the importance of this election.

    Copying a few words with the consent and respect of a fellow pundit is not this big a deal. Why not use this opportunity to examine political speeches instead of presenting this as "news". You will probably find there is a lot of leveraging of effort.

    Case in point: That shallow discussion of Bill Clinton "possibly" dealing with a heckler. Hey, lets start reporting that no one saw Elvis today...please.

    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. Paul

    This childish trash talk is really getting out of line. I'm not referring to what the candidates are saying, but rather the comments posted here. I think an awfully lot of people need to look in the mirror while spouting the "grow up" line.

    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. George

    A question I feel needs asking.

    This is my first time blogging.
    I had a question I wanted to be asked of Senator Obama in either the CNN or MSNBC debate on February 21st. Since I could not find a way to contact anyone at CNN.com, I found a way to email Tim Russert of NBC/MSNBC. The following is a copy of that email.
    Mr. Russert,
    I could not find on MSNBC's website who will be moderating the upcoming Democratic Debate on Thursday, Feb. 21, but I hope it would be yourself. I have a question I would like to see posed to Senator Obama, and how I would like to see it posed. Incidentally, I think my proposed posing of the question is rather "Russertesque". Although lenghtly, it is a yes or no quesstion. Here it is: A vast number of democratic voters feel that at issue isn't whether yourself or Senator Clinton win the Presidency, but rather that a Republican not win the Presidency. Since it looks like Senator McCain has a lock on being the Republican nominee, republican voters needn't vote republican at all, and in fact, in those states that allow republicans to crossover and vote for democratic candidates, as many suspect has already happened, and by doing so, further your chance of success as the democratic nominee, resulting in an Obama v. McCain matchup in the general election, do think it is in the realm of possibility that it is the republican game plan, despite their contention that they would rather run against Senator Clinton, it is actually yourself that they want as the democratic candidate, and that in fact, come the general election, those republican who whisper to you that they support you, will in fact, vote for Senator McCain in the general election, thereby thwarting for a third election any hopes of defeating the Republican Party? So that is the question I would like to see the moderator of the debate ask. Of course, being somewhat of a realist, I feel that the aforementioned question will never get asked on national television, so I will post it on the blogs as well, adding to the myriad of political cyber-fodder.

    * firsttimeblogger's blog

    February 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. Alecki

    Obama needs to be held accountable for every detail that emerges in this campaign, in the same way that Sen. Clinton has to.

    So far Obama has said that this plagerism charge is "no big deal" and that his involvement with the criminal "slumblord" Tony Resko from Chicago was"boneheaded"

    What kind of explanation are these remarks.

    This isn't an attack on Obama its' all about accountability!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Texasn

    People, wake up! If you don't like Clinton, pick John MaCain over Obama. Don't just follow, do your own research. Contribute to America!
    Thank you!

    February 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Clay OH

    Puh-leeze!! Hillary saying, "We are fired up and we are ready to go" was an in-your-face play on Obama's tiresome chant. Obviously she knew it was his line, everyone realized it, and she was just turning it against him. She never seriously took that phrase or pretended it was her own.

    And you know what? It has to be pretty hard for Hillary to run a campaign against such an immature candidate. She presents herself for what she is, a candidate running for the highest office in the U.S. and talking real issues. Obama, on the other hand, appears as if he's running for student-body president, with all the prancing around the stage, shadow-boxing, hip-hop music blaring, making lame jokes, chuckling to himself, while crowds of teeny-boopers sob and reach out just to get a touch of their idol.

    February 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. BigC in DC

    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 rely 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.

    February 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Jonathan

    It is really telling that Obama does something wrong and CNN tries to make it look like Clinton's fault. She shouldn't even be mentioned in this article. I am so tired of the media being up his butt.

    February 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Ray

    This is ridiculous to say the least, Negativity is a sign of who is losing the race,

    I am an Obama fan, not cause of his speeches but cause of what he believes in, if i repeated a speech of JFK that doesnt mean I wanna be JFK but cause i believe in what JFK is saying.

    Dirty games and negative attacks, once we hear "Present" votes in Illonis, then black votes, then speeches stolen from a friend, then public financing, then "Rezko"

    I see a point of Obama attacking Hillary on her vote on Iraq, cause that is related to a main issue of the campaign.

    I read some guys saying disparate times require disparate measures, i think Hillary is only hurting herself again, SC repeating herself and she is not learning,

    I have alot against Hillary,, but i think she wanna just stay in News, if we wanna talk negative,, how about the way her campaign been handled,, financial matters, organization, caucuses performance.

    I expect a good president to know -at least- how to manage his/her own campaign in an efficient and effective way,

    i hate seeing this going dirty cause Reps will be laughing their head off waiting for November to keep the white house for another 4 miserable years. wake up Democrats. I want OH and TX to vote Obama and then Clinton should drop out, cause no point of dragging this longer.

    and for now,, Please no disparate measures cause they are disgusting.

    February 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. marge

    Mashawnda, North Carolina February 18th, 2008 12:42 pm ET

    Its evident that Clinton's camp believes that Obama's speeches are the only thing that he has on her…This is petty, and I wish the Obama camp would not respond to matters like this…

    You're right. Hillaryland is frustrated because the "speech" thing is the ONLY weapon they have.
    It's petty and it's childish....But here the tee..hee...hee...
    Bill Clinton's antics over the week end is what the media is talking about.!!! LOL!LOL! NOT THIS! LOL!LOL!

    February 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Julie

    This is exactly the reason why no clinton will get my vote. She's desperate and at this point and her ugliness is showing – this is typical of our government in the last 7 years. Enough. Hillary can't even run a decent campaign, how can she run this country?

    February 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. ANTI OBAMAS !!!!

    Big speaker won't give US food or better school or health care !!!!!!
    USA needs Hillary to clean up, the same as her husband have done after first Busch. Americans needs a hard working person, not easy going Big speaker, who starteed his politycal carrier beeing link with Rezko businessman (corrupted).
    We don't need more currupted people in the White Hause !!!!!!!
    The best and only one candidate to leed the country is Hillary !!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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