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. Theresa

    I suggest that you who put down Obama's speeches, ideas (or lack of) read his books. The first, from '92, will give you some sense of the depth of the man - that's "Dreams from my Father." The second more recent book explains some ideas, positions on affairs in this country and the world today - that's "The Audacity of Hope." Speeches, sound-bytes, debates get nowhere near a true revelation of any candidate. I'm proud of Hillary, proud that a woman is running in this race. But she is a solid, competent manager. Obama has shown, early in his career, that he is a leader. That is what we need right now. And I hope both candidates continue to serve us all.

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

    CNN Please Print this/Take a look into this:

    I believe these message boards are being flooded by thousands of campaign workers accross the nation and something needs to be done about it. I have noticed a large change in the comments posted the recent days compared to weeks ago. The American people on this forum are starting to sound like the same dirty talk used in typical Washington politics. They weren't like this before. I believe your forums are tainted. The number of comments have also exploded. I know there is greater interest, but at this rate of people leaving comments? Come on. I request you do some investigative work to who these people are, and if you do not I will demand for full on investigations.

    February 18, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Kevin

    I am fine with candidates using ideas and thoughts from other people. Sometimes, those are most powerful. However, when I heard Clinton 2 weeks ago say "My opponent likes to say No We Can't, but I say Yes We Can" I was angered. YES WE CAN is an OBAMA platform and not a Clinton platform. YES WE CAN~!!!

    February 18, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Summer

    Hillary, please find something more meaningful to bicker about. I'm sick of your camp comming up with just anything to smear Mr. Obama's image.

    Hillary needs to find her own voice by comming up with something more significant to complain about. Oh, maybe that's it...she doesn't have anything of importance to complain about when it comes to Mr. Obama. For those of you who don't know very much about politcs, this is how the game is played....in order to shread your rival into pieces, you're have to try to make their strength look like a weakness; it is clear that this is another silly tactic from the Clinton camp to do just that to Mr. Obama.

    Oh, by the way, the comment above..."find her own voice" is a quote from one of Hillary's speeches. I guess, I should just turn myself in right now!!

    February 18, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. June

    Talk about telling the truth. Hillary has a commerciial claiming to have 30 years of experience, so now we are supposed to believe that as first lady she was handling foreign policy and other White House Affairs. Talk about using your own words, how about using your own real experience.
    My husband of 36 years is a lawyer, but you won't see me in court and I work for him. Give me a break Hillary and find your voice again.

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

    So what Obama borrowed words from his best friend, Hilliary is not Obama's best friend and most of what she said on the past Saturday night was from Obama's past speeches. She said those words with great pride and I thought I was going to throw up – I couldn't believe she would be that desperate to use as many phrases of Obama as she did. That is just pathetic!

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

    Is this how desperate Clinton supporters are?? OMG!! Big deal. Can't find anything bad about Obama so we will make mountains out of molehills. Get real!!

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

    The fact that Clinton, her staff and supporters are trying to make words a campaign issue shows just how much trouble she is in. When you add only 13% of people would like her husband back (when asked by Gallup what ex-President living or dead they'd like for the next President) it begins to really look like the Clinton-Bush era is ending.

    Hillary, it's time to move on.

    February 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. Jerry

    I would just like to hear someone comment about Senator Clinton's so-called 'solutions'. I watched a speach of hers were she was talking about upstate New York's manufacturing industry possibly going away, and that her 'solution' to that was to say it couldn't go away, that it was vital to the area. My question is, how is that 'observation' a solution. She sites numbers and other buzzwords that are most accurately described as observations. NOT solutions!

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

    Can these two stop bickering and get on with it. This is becoming nonsensical! Snipe, snipe, snipe. Talk about the issues for heaven's sake.

    February 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. Concerned

    I just pray to God that the SHEEP from the Obama herd will now start to go astray. It's time for the herd to realize the truth and stop following the heard and get behind the candidate with real SOLUTIONS FOR AMERICA!


    February 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. James

    We have started to see that Obama has nothing to offer.

    Go Hillary.

    Hillary for Presidet

    February 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Aaron

    Here' some words lifted from a silly conversation:

    "Hey, did you know that Obama uses words from close friends, supporters and speech writers in his speeches?!"

    "Really??? That's horrible. We should vote for Hillary now."

    "Yeah, I hear she comes up with every word she says in a speech right on the spot with help from no one. That's amazing!"

    Hey Hillary group... It's not about the origin of your words, it's how you use them.

    February 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. James

    Gaby – "Notice he is a man of his words, did not campaign in Florida and Michigan as agreed upon."

    Neither did Hillary. Obama did indeed have a commercial that was playing in the state though and Hillary did not.

    February 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Worthington-Aberdeen

    Empty Rhetoric, Free! Someone else's Rhetoric, Priceless!

    February 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Justin

    CNN- great reporting, you must enjoy the destruction of America over this ridiculous crap.

    February 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. Wendy

    I think its instructive to again note that Obama's response is adult, calm and puts things in perspective but does not lower himself to the level of his accusers. He plainly has wonderful examples of Hillary Clinton using HIS phrases and speech lines and they are obvious copies. But he says the whole thing is silly and not important.
    Clinton's people are desparate to mudsling and it all comes back on them because it looks and IS so petty.
    It says more about the disarray and panic in her campaign. It needs better management and this does not look good for her.

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

    MSNBC AGAIN AGAINST Mrs Clinton? how come?

    February 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. concerned citizen

    ... People should not forget Hillary did not campaign in Florida or Michigan either!!

    February 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. George, North Carolina

    Hillary continues to show lack of leadership, substance, and direction. She continues to start irrelavent fights to distract and divide. Most importantly, Clinton seems to not have learned any lessons from the 90s, and has once again positioned her rhetoric and policies for butting heads, division, and ultimately getting nothing done. Her healthcare policy, for example, is in reality a "universal" mandate that demonstrates an utter "universal" distrust and "universal" disrespect of American adults to make their own financial decisions. She engages in a pattern of leaving the American people out of the decision-making process. Independents and free-thinking moderates in both parties will not get on board a healthcare reform that includes a mandate, which is why she is losing to McCain in almost every national and state poll out there (see Rasmussen web site). On the other hand, Barack's policies seek to improve the economic environment for the average American without trampling on her/his individual rights. His healthcare plan is a manifestation of that trustful working relationship, because it levels the healthcare playing field and provides fairness and affordability for the common woman/man, but still adheres to an absolute trust in the average American to make his or her own decisions. Barack is engaging in "universal" trust and partnership with the American people and bringing people on board the decision-making process, as opposed to playing a dictator decreeing what is best for everybody in all situations. That is why I, an independent who usually leans Republican, will vote for Obama this cycle. Be he a woman or man, black, white, green, or magenta. I could care less. His strong, thoughtful, and respectful policies stand the best chance of restoring balance to our democracy and economy.....period!

    February 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Billie

    As usual, I just turned to CNN and they're showing Obama's rally in Ohio. They can never wait to give him t.v. time. And he is repeating everything Hillary has been saying all along.

    February 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Vincent Ruzi

    Obamacans you cry about everything REALITY CHECK you win all the small states Hillary wins all the big states (the core of america) .You cry about Michigan,and Florida should not count because you did not campaine there.Quess what crybabies (Idiots) Hillary did not campaine there either and won BOTH. It`s his fault that he did not register his name on the ballot in Michigan,you think a smart man would of made sure to back himself up in a presidenial race ( even a six year old can see that ).Never the less of course Owronga does`nt wamt to count those votes because he lost. An honest good man would except this and move on.........If these votes (2.5 million , record numbers) are not counted it will taint the whole primary process BECAUSE OF SUCH A CLOSE RACE THEY HAVE TO BE COUNTED if not my vote will be going to McCain . I will not put up with crybaby philosiphy .Your so called momentium is just a trend and we all know trends come and go every month . Real CHANGE is not another man in the whiteHouse that`s status quo But a WOMEN in the whitehouse is REAL CHANGE Get it together democrats Hillary`s the canidate for real change.


    February 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Chipo

    "SHE DID IT TOO" – Give me a break and grow up

    February 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  24. Paul

    Dear God, I used the phrase "yes we can" just the other day. I didn't know that obama had tried to put a copywrite on it. Hope he don't come knocking on my door 'cause I really don't care for the guy!

    February 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. Charles

    Please concentrate on how to save US from recession, and save our children from getting a job in China eventually. The sub-prime crisis is going to ruin US economy for a very long time.

    I wish both Demo candidates can really spend time showing us how to save America's dream, not only talking and accusing each other.

    February 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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