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. Felipe

    ALL I KNOW IS THE MORE I DO MORE RESEARCHING, LIKE ABC HAS MENTIONED THE MORE OBAMA HAS TAKE ENTIRE SPEACHES FROM DEVOL PATRICK. HUMMMMMM, OBAMA LIKE I MENTIONED BEFORE YOU ARE A PHONY. YOUR VOTING RECORD IS DISTURBING IN THE SENATE NOT YAY OR NAH BUT NA, YOUR FLIP FLOPING IS GETTING WORST AS DAY'S GO BY, IN ONE OF THE DEBATES YOU ARGUED AGAINST HILLARY AND EDWARDS ON UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE WAS BAD, NOW WAIT A MINUTE YOU ARE FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE? I MEAN COME ON PEOPLE, NOW HE IS TAKING ENTIRE SPEACHES FROM DAVOL PATRICK. NOT JUST WORDS, ENTIRE SPEACHESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, WAIT OBAMA SUPPORTERS, MORE EVIDENCE WILL SOON LEAK OUT THAT OBAMA IS A PHONY JUST WAIT............

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

    The word, "Universal" as in Universal Health Care, was never heard from the Obama camp until they realized the progress she is making using the term, "Universal Health Care." Look closely and you'll see Obama spouting Hillary's word, "Solutions."

    To the person who says this is taking on shades of "Student Council elections, got it right. Every time it seems that Obama has metamorphasized into a real adult, here he comes with "well she said it too!" Give us a break and grow up!!! I shutter at the thought of such a person ascending to the highest office in the world.

    February 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. Garry

    why should this suprise anyone , Obamas copied from Dr. King and JFK whats the difference?

    February 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Aida

    Obama, stop your whining! You stole 'Yes we can' from the Farmworkers who are strong supporters of Hillary. 'Si Se Puede' is their phrase and it translates to 'Yes We Can.' Remember? You fractured the phrase in Spanish when you tried to convince Mexican-Americans we should vote for you. You underestimated our memory of having been ignored until you realized our numbers and knew you needed our votes.Go Hillary!

    February 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. hillary#1

    Good for you Joe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HILLARY SUPPORTERS FOR MCCAIN NEXT NOV.!!!!!!!!!!!!
    At least we know what we 'll get!!!!!

    Also, what are nobamas plans for Africa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Michigan500

    The Clintons have stolen everything successful that Obama has said or done. Oh, and lets not forget Hillary going to a southern black church earlier this year quoting a song with a phony condescending southern accent. She'll say and do anything.

    Obama using well known phrases or snippets of other peoples speeches to make his point is something every single politician does. People copy other peoples phrases every day. So what. This just shows how desperate the Clintons are. They are in the mode of throwing as much as they can to see what sticks and they don't care how petty and bullying they have to behave. Their behavior is nauseating.

    February 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Leslie Sexton

    HEY – what about the Republicans? They ALL sound alike. So who is plagerizing whom in that party?

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Doreen Augusta Maine

    This is ridiculous. The fact is that the words or phrases that Obama used are not Deval's words or phrases. They belong to the original users. Obama was just trying to make a point which has evidently gotten lost in the usual crap that the Clintons put out. They do not deserve to be in the White House. Just imagine how awful it will be to have the Clintons back - doesn't anyone remember the awful years of fighting and bickering. That is what they are best at - it totally limits any accomplishments they may have had (which were actually few if one were to list them).

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. paul in pittsburgh

    TO MOEY: I BELIEVE YOU PROBABLY MIGHT BE A TYPICAL OBAMA SUPPORTER. SHE CANNOT ASK BILL TO BE HER VICE PRESIDENT BECAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION. IF SHE WERE TO DIE, HE WOULD THEN BECOME PRESIDENT, AND UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE. DO SOME RESEARCH.

    PLEASE. DO WE HAVE TO CORRECT THE OBAMA SUPPORTERS ON EVERYTHING INCLUDING BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL FACTS AND THE TRUE DEFINITION OF PLAGIARISM?!

    AND THEY SAY THE AVERAGE OBAMA SUPPORTER IS MORE INTELLIGENT THAN THE AVERAGE HILLARY SUPPORTER. I THINK NOT.

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Sue

    Have you seen the movie Man of the Year with Robin Williams.
    Well, you should.
    There is one scene where Robin Williams Character is a making a speech: He says something to the effect that there are NO Red States, or Blue States, just the UNITED STATES.
    So, is Obama also a movie buff, because it is very much like his favorite lines.
    Obama is a bit of a snake oil salesman.. nothing specific, but lots of rhetoric. Seems he borrows from many sources.

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Darrell

    Is there any line that the Hill campaign won't cross to get this nomination. This actually discourages me from politics and it's kinda scary. How negetive will they go? I fear we have barely scratched the surface of what they are capable of doing or saying to win. I like hillary, but how low will they go because I am liking her less as each day goes by.

    Concerned Democrat.

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. JustGoAway

    I just realized that this came out the day after OBAMA and EDWARDS met. I guess now we know that EDWARDS will ENORSE OBAMA!!

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. speeches

    John,
    get your own life, and stop being so annoying.

    February 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. carol

    This proves what a PHONY he is. No ideals of his own, no plan of his own, now he don't even have any words he can call his own. What a joke, inexperenced joke he is. I hope this story go's around like wild fire. It's about time the press is looking in the wonder boy ,the change agent. BIG JOKE

    February 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Thinker

    I am concerned that although thousands of people did not vote in the Primaries in Florida based on agreed terms "Hillary" and the democratic party; but, now that "SUPER TUESDAY" did not give Hillary Clinton what she expected, she is now requesting that the votes in Florida be counted regardless of those that believed that ethics ruled and stayed home and did not vote. Is this the kind of President that you can trust to uphold the "LAW", "RULE", "POLICY" and "ETHICS"; no wonder we are in war that the people did not authorize.

    February 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Troy

    This is really a non issue. Lets see this past summer clinton ridiculed Obama for his change message and when that message caught on with voters whom do you think started talking about change surely it wasn't hillary? After Obama started talking about yes we can whom do you think started talking about yes we can surely not hillary?

    the only thing clinton can think of is I know how to battle republicans which leads one to believe she is really on a vendetta of revenge against republicans. look at the candidates this way:
    hillary =me, myself and I + bill=hillary and bill=clintons
    Obama =we, us, inclusive, yes we can =we the people=country=U.S.

    February 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Frank

    What about Billary's CLAP-CLAP-POINT-POINT victory dance ... now that's an original ! Unfortunately her dirty smear tactics are neither original nor new ... that's just from Karl Rowe's textbook.

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

    Bill and Hillary are getting desperate. They will try anything to discredit Obama.

    February 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Lory

    Hey, this is not plagiarized – Hawaiians enjoy the benefits of MED-QUEST which was health insurance for the low income group in Hawaii. Employers with 20 employees provided insurance to them. It was Bill Clinton who started the MED-QUEST in Hawaii. In contrast, what has Obama done for Hawaii, his birthplace, in his 2 years in the US Senate? NOTHING. Maybe Obama will step up to the plate and plagiarize the Republicans' dismissing this Clintonian benefit as old politics? Hawaiians have a good memory and heartfelt sense of gratitude for the Clintons and use this sense to blunt the wave of Anti-Hillary hatred Obama's supporters have been cultivating not only in Hawaii but nationwide. I am sure Hillary will do better than her husband in serving Hawaii in the future. Hillary can plagiarize Bill's Med-Quest and make improvements for the benefit of the HAWAIIANS. In Hawaii, Go Hillary!

    February 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Jake, California

    It makes me sick when Hillary comes out with all these childish accusations just to make things ugly. This woman looks uglier to me each and every time I see or hear about her.

    Obama is a gifted speaker and a revolutionist so he uses words to convey his ideas...This is not all to him, of course..look at his accomplishments. But this ugly woman wants to belittle it so that he is not as convincing any more...calling it empty rhetoric...

    If his words are empty rehtoric why does she borrow them herself. I even listened to John McCain saying 'I am fired up and ready go'

    when Obama started talking about change and people became interested, didn't everybody from both parties label themsleves 'change agent'

    Hillary, stop this it will not help you, it will only hurt you...you should grow up! But then at 60 I don't know how much more growing up you can do but just try.

    February 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. linda hemmingsen

    obama is all about speeches. He attacks hillary and puts her down. This junior senator who is so arrogant in his speeches is so full of himself.Right from the start he showed no respect for a senior senator.He seems to not know the rules of the senate . he has a cult falling of young people who don't know nothing about government and how things work. The media is such a disgrace in the U.S. they have not asked anything or questioned anything of obama. why did they not challenge him when he says he only worked maybe 5hours of work for a corrupt rezko when it was for years!!!! why didn't they ask him why he lied? he says clinton is the past. Why does he surround himself with her and bills advisors and have people like kennedy etc on his team if they are the past and they need a new vision the vision is the clintons except hers are better eg. health care for all!!!!!!!!the media and the newspapers that support obama say they do run stories positive of obama.Excuse me i thought the media was to report objectively but it is a clinto bashing from day one. the media is the ones running the polls down for hillary they started from day one and they have crowned obama it produces ratings.Well as a canadian i can say so much for your democracy, it is a joke. Please give up the preaching that you go around the world to bring honesty to elections when you can't do it in your own country.How sad !!!!!!!! that you are giving an election to a person you know nothing about his positions his back ground etc. we love hillary she would be a great president!

    February 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Janice

    Oh please!!! Obama plagiarizes an ENTIRE speech AND much of Hillary's well thought out plans for our country.

    Add to that, how can you say that "all fired up" and "yes we can" belongs to Obama? Those words show up in daily conversation...when I'm excited about something I say "I'm all fired up! Does that mean I'm lifting from Obama? Give me a break.

    By the way, "Si se puede" originated from Cesar Chavez and the Chavez family supports Hillary...therefore Obama technically lifted that from Hillary.

    GROW UP!!!

    February 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Thoughts

    The sick persons on this blog that say they will vote for McCain (the next Bush in the making) are all sick. I guess after you do that you will use Hillary's famous slogan. I REGRET.... LOL

    February 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. PoolPah

    Obama's camp has sunk really low. "Fired up and ready to go" is hardly rhetoric worth fighting for...anyone can spew those cliches. Obama and Patrick are both under the management of Axelrod and the whole camp clearly has no issue with borrowing from a friend. Axelrod admits their tone and rehtoric is similar, but where do you draw the line between similarities and copying off a friend who has no problem helping out? Let's face it, Obama and Patrick are both puppets of Axelrod. Maybe we should forget about Obama and put Axelrod on the ticket since he's the communications genius behind the Obama/Patrick machine!

    February 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Alison

    Hey Obamamite cultists Defend your plagiarist. BHO is just a phony. He lifts speeches, he steals policies. go Hillary, kick his ...

    February 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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