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. Marcus, Great Lakes IL

    Who really cares? At least he was not borrowing lines from W's speaches....

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

    No politicians write their own speeches. (That's why they have the position of "speechwriter"!)

    Do you think W. ever wrote one of his own? (Even the thought of it makes me chuckle...)

    February 18, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. john williams san diego, ca.

    Fools for Hillary-she doesn't even write her own books, and Bubba writes her speeches.

    February 18, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Joann

    Yeah but even his "Yes we can" line came from a 10 year old Wesley Snipes movie. My friend happened to be watching it last week and there was Snipes yelling to people "Yes we Can". Can't this guy even come up with his own "catch phrase"? If he can't even do something simple like that then how do you supporters expect him to run your country. He has no experience. Go Hillary

    February 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. Benjamin

    I was a Hilliary supporter until she allowed Bill to degrade Obama prior to the South Carolinia primary. Bill's rhetoric was disrespectful to the African American community by implying that he knew exactly how they think. Citing Obama's campaign was a 'fairytale' adventure and full of criminal elements was a huge and unfortunate mistake for the Clinton campaign. Now anyone who didn't know the real Clintons have a good idea of what they currently represent. Hilliary's message had a center approach, now that she is competing with Obama it has a more conservative tone, a tone that keeps this country divided. The time is right for electing someone who wants progress for human beings regardless of race creed or culture.

    February 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Joann

    Yeah but even his "Yes we can" line came from a 10 year old Wesley Snipes movie. My friend happened to be watching it last week and there was Snipes yelling to people "Yes we Can". Can't this guy even come up with his own "catch phrase"? If he can't even do something simple like that then how do you supporters expect him to run your country. He has no experience. Go Hillary

    February 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Ron D

    So should Obama be siting sources at the end of every speech?

    Can we expect Clinton to do the same?

    February 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Fabian Blache III

    Okay,

    So when Barack cited his estimates for troop withdrawal in South Carolina, and Hillary said she wasn't sure how many units and in what time frame she would withdraw, then in California she cited Barack's exact statements from South Carolina, that wasn't plagiarism. gotcha!

    With respect to this issue, there aren't but so many ways to quote statesmen and founding fathers in this particular context. Those particular words, when used, will be precisely the same. Obviously, Deval Patrick was consulted here, which would explain why he takes no issue with the similarity and scope of what has been said.

    The most perplexing and germane thing to this whole line of criticism placing and diminished value on one's words is what really concerns me. I am curious if Mrs. Clinton really means to tell the American people that what people say doesn't matter? Obviously Mr. Obama has healthy doses of substance to his words; his plans in each category of his platform have been reduced to writing and published via his website, just as her's have. So that argument is tacitly baseless from the start.

    And if what people say means nothing, then why is she speaking so much?

    February 18, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Arland Preston

    Obama should continue to play it smart, give Edwards the VP slot
    for his endorment.

    Arland/Baltimore, Md.

    February 18, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Rechi

    Obama is for change, a lousy change. When I have to choose between a lousy change and the proven experience, I would go for the experience. I believe in change but the change has to be for better, not for worse and Obama's idea of change is so lousy that I am almost getting sick of hearing the word CHANGE.

    February 18, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Aaron from Texas

    Seriously, and this is why I'd never vote for a slick snake like Clinton, I'm sick of these knee jerk reaction attacks from the Clinton campaign and supporters.

    First they throw out these accusations with words that are meant to invoke instant tag line emotional responses from voters without acknowledging the whole concept. Like "Obama wants to disenfranchise the voters in Florida" ... somehow this is his fault that they broke the rules and he wasn't allowed to campaign there? It's a cheap trick to use language like "plagiarism" and "disenfranchised voters" to get these knee jerk reactions from voters that don't pay close enough attention to politics to know that they are petty and hollow accusations from that camp.

    Way to play dirty pool Hillary. I have news for you, the American people are not as dumb as you think. That's why Obama is beating you now, every time you do something like this, most of us see it for what it is. I was on the fence between Obama and Hillary for the longest time, but the minute Hillary and Bill started acting like petty children, the decision wasn't hard after that. They continue to make me realize I made the right choice every time they spew a petty line of attack or act like a spoiled child attacking their own party for the sake of their own political power moves. The Clinton's are clearly not interested in what's best for the Democratic party or America, they are interested in what can get them another 8 years in the White House.

    February 18, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Ty

    Hillary Clinton is perceived to be a looser after Barack racked up eight state win. As a result, she started negative attack. The problem with this tactics is not new and it has failed time after time.

    The desire is to elect someone from the Democratic party. Therefore, party internal fighting over petty, insignificant matters turn people off.

    If Hillary really wants to replace Bush with someone from the Democratic party. Running a fair and balance campaign is essential.

    As an independent voter in Texas, I will cast my vote to Barack simply based on my dislike of dirty tactics.

    February 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Charles

    I tried sending an E-Mail to my Illinois Senators during the attempt to get a marriage amendment. The messages I received back were almost word for word exactly the same thing. You could tell that the Democratic party had sent the senators involved the response they wanted them to respond with. So this type of thing happens all the time. It is just the repitition of the party-line marching orders.

    February 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. anonymous

    OK, even though I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton, I will give Obama the benefit of the doubt since the media does have a way of distorting and dramatizing things. With that said, I will also say Obama "GROW UP!" I certainly hope that this finger pointing mentality and the shrugging off of personal accountability is not a preview to your foreign policy, because we already had 7 years of that mentality and guess what it didn't work. Tit for tat politics or foreign policy isn't generally that effective. So fess up, be mature and move on.

    February 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. jas

    Cyrille

    If you are going to quote somebody, please spell their name correctly or look it up.

    Gandhi is the correct spelling.

    February 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Claustro

    Absolutely no way are either of these people getting my vote. I am a long time Democrat turned, just this year, Republican.

    McCain '08

    February 18, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Karen

    This is just sad.

    I'm starting to understand all the "Kool Aid" references to Obama supporters – no matter how you twist it, you cannot say he has the experience and success that Hillary has had. And experience will be necessary to dig us out of this hole Bush has put us in.

    And to those of you who don't know the difference between Bush and Clinton – get a CLUE! Bush and Clinton are NOT the same and never have been. And as I recall when Bill Clinton left office we did not have a monsterous deficit, a rapidly shrinking pool of allies and a terrible reputation for our International relations! You can thank Bush for those lovely items that the next President will have to deal with. You want to blame Hillary for not being able to push though some of her healthcare changes? Since when can the First Lady just "DECIDE" to push through a bill? There are a lot of other fingers in the pot every time there is a vote so get a clue before you throw that around.

    February 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. Janice

    Recess is over. Let's get back to the election. Both of you.

    February 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. curtis

    THIS IS REDICULOUS! WHEN I WAS YOUNG I WAS A DEMOCRAT NOW MY VEIWS ARE MORE IN LINE WITH REPUBLICANS FOR THIS VERY REASON. THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR GOVERNMENT TO PARENT THIER EVERY MOVE, AND ARE LOOKING FOR A SOCIAL HANDOUT INSTEAD OF TAKING PERSON RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEM SELVES AND ACTIONS. THEY TEND TO ALWAYS LIVE IN THE GREY OR SAFE ZONE INSTEAD OF LOOKING DOWN THE GUN BARREL ON TOUGH ISSUES. SOMETIMES PEOPLE HAVE TO SUFFER OR DIE THATS LIFE. tAKE THE MORGTGAGE CRISIS, IM SORRY THOSE 480,000 PEOPLE SHOULD JUST EAT IT BECUASE THE PUBLIC SHOULDN'T FOOT THE BILL FOR YOU BAD CHOICES.SOME THINGS YOU JUST HAVE TO LIVE WITH AND GET OVER. DONT BUY THINGS YOU DONT HAVE THE CASH TO PAY FOR.THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS FOR CHILDREN OR LIKE MINDED ADULTS WITH A CHILDLIKE COMPLEX. BOTTOM LINE...GROW UP

    February 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Tim

    Felipe....

    Speaches is spelled SPEECHES!

    You are allowed to take from my post if you would like. I give permission!

    February 18, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Jeffery Demary

    DefiantRican, Not sure what you meant by this comment, but I want you to help me understand what you meant. I'm not racist, but just want to understand.

    All I can say is Hillary in 08. Barack is a cry baby and a whiner. He will lose ultimately. Once his "people" forget how to vote.

    Go Hillary in 08

    February 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. ling

    I just want to thank Hillary and Bill for all they are saying and doing to help get Obama into the White House. Sincerely, An Obama Supporter 😉

    February 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. RIcky

    I have been saying all along that Obama is nothing but hot air, and this is a great example.

    If he get the Democratic nomination over Hillary I will vote for John McCain. I WILL NEVER VOTE for false hope and the con artist tendencies of Obama!

    Hillary 2008 – A candidate with a real brain, not just speech writers!

    February 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. Annamica, OH

    The majority of the Obama supporters seem to forget that Senator Clinton did not make these allegations first, another news source, ABC broke the story, and CNN as well as others followed it up. Do your research/reading if you intend to bash another candidate (which I don't support).

    February 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. tmd

    This is another pathetic attempt at discrediting Obama. I just don't understand why the Clinton supporters don't see her for the hypocrite she is. Case in point...do you really think she's worried about the "pour voters" in Florida and Michigan? Think again! She will do whatever it takes to win. If the democratic party agreed to split the delegates evenly, she would change her tune. The people in Ohio need to know how she really feels about outsourcing. they should google Tata Consultancy. Instead of "ready on day one", her campaign slogan should be "what's in it for me?"

    February 18, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
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