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, Hazleton, Pa

    Both Obama and Clinton would do the voters and the party a favor by publicly stating they the each promise to fully support the nominee of the voters and party.

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

    I would argue that both candidates discuss the issues but the media insists on focusing on all the lame bickering that inevidbliy goes along with the political process in this country.
    And by the way, I've been scanning the headlines regularly and there are definately way more headlines talking about the Clinton machine than Obama machine.
    We want the real issues media mongrols, not all this claptrap!

    February 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Paul

    When Obama gets attacked by Clinton he needs to defend himself. You Hillary supporters actually expect Barrack or anyone else for that matter to allow attacks to go unanswered? It's obvious that the Clinton supporters are in desperation and will say or do anything to get back in the race, even if it's unethical. Whoops, did I just plagarize the Obama campaign because they've already pointed that out. Give me a break.

    February 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Carol

    Few of their words are original. They have a staff of speech writers.

    Someone thinks Hillary copied a quote from Kerry? I find this so odd. Jon Favreau WAS John Kerry's speech writer. Jon Favreau IS Obama's speech writer. You are complaining she copied a speech writer? Gag...

    Then again, I'm probably just another one of those women Obama describes as 'feeling down' because I'm on my 'periodically.'

    Patrick for President.

    February 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. Luis

    And NOW the true colors of Obama are beginning to show? Too bad his supporters were and still are too stupid to figure this out. Including the media...

    February 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. MB

    Joe Biden lost his President bid back in 1988 for plagiarism. Obama needs to man up and admit what he did.

    February 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Wanda Harlow

    With the news media's obvious preferential treatment of Mr. Obama, I doubt Mrs. Clinton has a chance at being the democratic nominee. It is a shame, because the only advantage Mr. Obama has shown is in his oratory; what he is willing to promise the American people. Not a word about how the house and congress play a large part in what President can accomplish. That reduces the promises to so much hot air.

    February 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. Andrea

    For someone who doesn't want the same Washington politics or the same Washington players, he sure does plagiarized from the 'old' politicians in Washington, including Hillary Clinton's economic plan.
    I want my president to be a leader, not a follower. I believe it is better to be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else, and Obama is clearly the latter.

    February 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Matthew

    Typical of the Obama camp when they get caught doing something wrong. Point the finger at someone else and say "they did it too." What a cowardly group of people, I bet right now the Obama camp is doing their very best to hunt down Larry Sinclair.

    February 18, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Tom,des moines

    America what we need rightnow is experience,leadership,knowledge and know how to get things done in washington. All Barack Husseine Obama want to do is give the same speech over and over again.u know what?I am get sick and tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. Hillary 08!

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

    "Yes we can" does not belong to Obama...ask Dolores Huerta what she thinks about him saying that it is his phrase.

    Si Se Puede anyone?

    February 18, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Sara in CA

    Why has it always been Clinton attacking Obama?
    Obama's only held his ground. Clearly reporters called him and asked him a question.
    He's not been the petty one. Obama simply responds truthfully.
    Clinton's actions make her seem like she truly only cares about winning this election: she confuses a dignified race with a fight. I don't want a president like that in my white house after 7 years of George W. Bush. This is so 2nd grade of her... I don't blame Obama for replying in a clear and straightforward fashion.

    February 18, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. old man

    We had family dinner here yesterday and all my kids and their spouses were here total 10 including my wife and I. My wife cooked a good meal and we enjoyed it so much till politics came up. Four years ago all 10 voted democrat. This time 9 our of 10 said they were voting for McCain if Obama was the candidate. Race had nothing to do with it, just who was best qualified to them. Of course one of my daughter in laws talked like she may vote for Obama if he was the candidate. Said she would have to think hard for it. Now this is 9 out of 10 people that will vote republican from a democrat family. I have never saw our country so split. I don't think Obama has a chance to be president.

    February 18, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. allen

    this is nonsense and a none issue. You find me a word or slogan that has not been said and I will lay a golden egg. hillary is grabbing a any and everything to slow down Obama, and Obama is allowing her to draw him into this petty silliness! i mean grow up hillary. half of her ideas and speeches come from Bill.
    Last time i check, "I have a dream" was said by MLK not deval Patrick and I have heard that line evoke by numerous people, without such fan fare. hillary's accusation that he is all talk is crazy and lacks base, because if it did, she would be whipping him, instead of the other way around.
    let's talk about her 35 years of service and leadership expereience she was a senator for 6 years... 8 years of watching Bill run the country doesn't count and another 8 years of watching him be governor doesn't count...so where is all this expereince. Seems like she plagerizing bill's experience as her own!

    February 18, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Mikey

    Next they'll be accusing each other of who wears more make-up

    February 18, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. John

    There goes phony Hillary again. Is she stupid or senile? The dumbest of people don't accuse others of their own blatant sins. Petty and silly, Hillary acts like a loser. Hopefully she will be.....the sooner, the better.

    February 18, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Sara in CA

    Don't try swiftboating us with this silliness...
    We remember Kerry.

    Obama 08

    February 18, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. James Bond

    He is an "Obamanation" being pused by the liberal media because they want a colored President they can manage

    February 18, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Carol McFarlane

    This is not news – that Clinton copied! She doesn't have a line that is original!

    As for issues, she has been borrowing Barack's and embellishing from day one.

    I DISTINCTLY remember her almost totally plagiarizing his healthcare policy! It is SO irritating. I would hate to deal with such a competitor. This kind is clinging, like a leech. She sucks the blood out of one or tries to.

    Even now, every speech of his is followed by something very similar from her, every slogan, everything. It's maddening.

    However, it's also so transparent! The whole world can see how ridiculous this is, I wouldn't dignify her campaign with responses or any defensive stance. They are simply trying to turn the tables, as with the race issue, and so many others.

    February 18, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. manuel

    B.t.W. no mistake in MSNBC, but did anyone of you read MSNBC with Obama admiting the borroing? Did CNN by any chance read the article? or maybe they did notlisten to the very same Mr Obama....
    Antoher one: Yes, we can is not from Mr Obama is from Venezuelan president Mr Hugo Chavez (see the consecuences Venezuela is paying for that use), and you arefired is...TRUMP!!!

    February 18, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. S

    I think CNN is pro-Obama. For instance, the mailer he used in Utah and Nevada was ignored by almost all news media including CNN. When Hillary Clinton says something it is a "negative" ad. When Obama does the same thing it is called "jabs". "Fired up" and "ready to go" were not uttered by Obama for the first time. McCain said it last week. The "just words" speech is huge suspect in my opinion because it was delivered by Obama as though it was his own to make an important point. He could have said as my friend D. Patrick stressed in his 06 campaign speech...something like that. It is also beside the point whether D. Patrick gives Obama the right to use his material, the point being people actually thought Obama was different and not a typical politician with original, sound and inspirational ideas. I am very disappointed.

    February 18, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Chad

    This is stupid. The Clintons are attempting to use a non-issue to put a cloud in the minds of people when it comes to Obama's character. Making this about character is a personal attack. And the most absurd thing... in using the language of Kerry Healey (a Republican), Hillary Clinton attacked Obama as lacking substance (pretty speech vs "real" action). He responded with a line that he may very well have helped formulate in conjunction with Deval Patrick (who defeated Healey).

    So, isn't this a case where Clinton took (stole/plagiarized/etc) an attack line from a Republican and Obama responded with something that he likely helped come up with to counter that same stale attack?

    February 18, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. John

    Here is an idea people, stop listening to the media, friends, family, actually do some research, and learn how to think for yourself... this is the reason why it does not matter who is in office next... the damage has been done and it is going to take a lot more then one president to right the ship.

    February 18, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. tom, valley forge, PA

    The Dem campaign is is crash and burn mode. They will squander another gimme. They never learn. John McCain will be the next prez .

    February 18, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. George

    Wow! How much lower can we go? Who cares who uses what rhetoric. Guess it shows just how low the Clinton's will go to get what they want.

    Where has politics in the U.S. gone?

    February 18, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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