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. Larry Buchas, New Britain, CT

    I would be careful charging plagiarism when some lines are agreed to during a phone conversation.

    Then I suggest reading "The Audacity of Hope" if the Clinton camp wants to value words. If reading the book is beneath them, they can listen to the spoken word CD.

    I find Barack's book superior than anything written by the Clintons. And Barack's speeches are on an even keel with anything coming from the Clintons.

    The Clintons can't comprehend the new leader of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama. It's time the rest of America realizes the same thing.

    February 18, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. colorblind

    even Bill would say "Give me a break" i heard Hillary say that she taking her ball and going home...... (i think she's a sore loser)

    February 18, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. josh

    So If Hillary says Fired up, ready to go that is the SAME as coping some one's speech? I think not! Nice try NObama!!

    February 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Patrick Anthony Drake

    I only hope the debate is filled with enough words to give the people a clear analysis of each respected candidate and greater detail on how each expects to lead our great nation in a positive direction.

    February 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Katy Hill Prescott Az.

    For God's sake can Clinton get anymore juvenile? I've used the preamble and Dr. Kings lines to make a point. So have millions of others. Is this petty harpy really what we want to represent our country. I'm all for a woman president but not this woman with her screaming, out of control husband and her I'm to special to bother daughter. This family is a sham. America can do better.

    February 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Well now, old pouty face is trying to TAR Hillary Clinton with his brush. But the difference is, HILLARY is not the one, with the fact that obama and all his precious words he spews to his cult members are taken from other people's speeches.....HE is the one who tells his members that HE gives them hope and inspiration, er uh taken from other peoples speeches.

    HOW COME WHEN POUTY FACE gets caught doing something wrong he blames Hillary. Guess it is because the MSM has always had a habit of doing it...WHAT A SEXIST PIG.

    February 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Fowler

    For God sake, this is not an "authorship" contest.....the real power is in "who delivered and how it is delivered".

    Hillary, get over it. Even if you "recite" Obama's words, it will be dull and boring as usual......and ....

    Hillary, please stop nodding your head after every slogan you utter.

    February 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. O8

    I said it about one week ago in this forum (but dont know if CNN accepted my comments..I say it like i see it ) Clinton in one of her speeches right after the many defeats, and I think it was in Texas she copied Senator Obama's not only style of campaigning but some of his very own statements........and I said it, desperate people will go to desperate measures.. she even added music, (a thing that the Obama campaign had been doing all along.... I noticed it because she added U2 which in my eyes was but a copy of the Obama campaign). THen she used yes we can.. and I want to bring hope, and literally was using even puting her hands on her chest a very gesture that Senator Obama does at every speech, she also lowered her voiced and imitated him.. I said it then, about one or two weeks ago, right after she lost in the east coast...........i noticed it because she is often so agressive and loud and senseless...............

    February 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. ademocrat

    I guess if I went around the country making speeches that
    stated that I was against the invasion of Iraq – true, by the way –
    I was skeptical from the start – Obama would say I 'copied" him.

    Will someone take the mirror away from this guy?

    And HIll, dont get trapped in this kind of talk – the Press and the
    Obamites cant get enough of him – even though his words ( or are they)
    ring hollow?

    February 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. D

    its funny that the clinton campaign even mentions this at all.

    February 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Illinois voter

    Didn't Senator Joe Biden have to suspend his presidential run in 1987 due to plagiarism? Why should we have a double standard for Barack Obama?

    Hillary '08

    February 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. max

    Hillary is getting desperate ... she doesn't have a prayer now that billy is out picking fights and scolding opponents ...

    February 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Jude

    Get over it people. They all use each other words at times...So What...What is the big deal??? Its okay to quote Reagan...which the GOP's do but not each other? Common...give me a break. CNN...you are making too big of a deal of something that its not even there. I'm not sure why this should even make your news page

    February 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. P.Dawg

    If the Clinton camp is now trying to accuse Obama of plagarism when the man who originally spoke those words claims its not an issue and that they share a lot of the same thoughts, you might as well let the mudslinging commence.

    Words DO matter. You think MLK's idea of equal rights was novel? You don't think a lot of his speeches were messages others had spoken? You don't think Regan's "tear down that wall" speech wasn't thought of and spoken by many? We all want change. We all speak of it. But when a man such as Obama speaks, it's inspirational and give you that "feeling." He's a uniter, not a divider and truly believes in the humanity of people. The Clintons-and man do I love Bill–are political machines.

    February 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Allison- Mclean, Va

    Word of advice to the Clinton Camp,
    If you are going to criticize someone for using other people's rhetoric, make sure you haven't stolen rhetoric from that person repeatedly. Obama continues to amaze me with poignant and relevant arguments, while the Clinton Camp continues to amaze me with irrelevant, childish distractions. Hey Dems, hurry up and elect Obama so that the Clinton will stop degrading the quality of our headlines... not to mention country.

    February 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. kris

    This is sad if this is all she has to attack him for.

    February 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. NYC Democrat

    Clinton's mindless distractions are an insult to the intelligence of the American people. Next she'll try to convince us that Obama just stole his ideas from Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Sorry, Mrs. Clinton. These are American ideas. They're not for sale. They belong to all of us.

    Clinton's campaign is a nasty joke. I hope the Democratic party doesn't fall for it.

    February 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Praetorian, Fort Myers, FL

    Ditto Joe!!!

    I used to be a Florida Democrat–it doesn't matter if they count our votes or note–I've already changed my registration to independent–and I won't vote for either one of these two weenies. Myself and my friends spilled guts and blood in holes around the globe defending this nation and it's ideals.

    I'm not happy with a lot of things in America–but to embrace a wholly socialist ideology at this point in my life–ain't happening!


    February 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. JustGoAway

    Okay, this is getting ridiculous! Obama and Patrick are friends. Obama used the same material in his US Senate run. Patrick's people shared his speech materials with Obama's people.

    Clinton is a sick, slimy, sleazy B. There is no way she will get my vote tomorrow.

    February 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Bryan

    The Clintons are cornered and like any animal it will lash out in all directions to stay alive. She is falling like a rock and will try and say anything at this point to live.

    February 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. Amy

    Oops... in my first entence I have omitted the "happy" after "I am"

    February 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Dave

    People continue to say HRC is a person of actions with solutions. What has she solved and what ideas has she formulated as senator of new york? Please enlighten me HRC supporters.

    February 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. texasgirl

    All this nonesense just makes me want to vote for McCain now. And that's pretty bad!

    February 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Ryan

    Barack Obama is clearly all about giving great speeches, but doesn't have the depth of knowledge to back up how this change will take place. He should've clearly given tribute to Patrick, it would've taken one line. And about Clinton speaking about change, she has always spoken about change. I dont get how people forget that. Just because you put it on a sign doesn't make it something that you alone bring or give.

    February 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. Ella

    CNN must be getting desperate for news to cover about the campaigns
    Who really cares whose words they use
    all candidates use other leaders words all the time
    find something newsworthy to report
    Believe me the Clintons or McCain are NOT change
    just more of the same
    anyone who votes for them is being suckered into more of the same old washington thats been around for 30 years
    Vote Obama at least he is real change and deserves the chance to prove it

    February 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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