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. jayjay

    This is not a big deal.... he used lines with permission from the writer, Patrick.

    Let's not make a mountain out of a mole-hill.

    NEXT topic please.

    February 18, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. Kenny

    Look ,,
    If you have someone out their destorting your record you bet he has to answer that, just as long as he doesn't dwell on it. Barrack did that, and that was all that needed to be said. Hillary is trying to drag him into the mud with her because she has dished out all of her cards. If any of you know how to play spades she has thrown all her trumph cards out on the table. All she is doing know is throwing out 4 of clubs 6 of dimonds hoping that he will engage in a mud fest.. The jack of spades was played when she played the Gender card crying about everyone is picking on me because i'm a women.. The Qween of spades was played when she had to fire one of her campaign managers for using the Race Card, Her King of spades came when after she lost Iowa when she almost had a melt down on national tv, the ACE of spades came with the fear card basically saying vote for me or the boggie man is gonna get you, using the Dick Chaney play book, and she ran it step by step..She only has the Jocker left, and some say he is out there waggin his finger. America we need a change!!!!!


    If Barrack never said anything you same people would be saying he is too SOFT, and wouldn't be able to handle the republicans or any other country. So with some of you he will never win your vote However, there are many, many other Americans that would like to know that he will be a strong man.

    February 18, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  3. Elizabeth


    That is plagiarism. . . .you are stealing from a Hillary speech. . . .where was the attribution.

    February 18, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  4. Billie

    I just watched the videos on youtube, Obama didn't just make it sound like somebody else, he copied word for word and pause for pause. And the other guy actually was a better speaker putting them side by side.

    February 18, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. arica

    Clinton's obviously desperate. If this is all they can come up with against Obama, then maybe its time to think about backing out graciously

    February 18, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  6. Kim

    Obama should give Bob the Builder credit for "Yes, we can!"

    Miss June-Hillary had a great deal of experience as a lawyer, as an advocate for children's right-a group MOST politicians even recognize because they lack the power to vote-women's and the poor's rights. It is there if you choose to acknowledge it.

    At the very least, people should be reading the information on the websites of the candidates. If you aren't informed

    February 18, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Tannim

    Considering that all of the rest of the candidates have been stealing Dr. Ron Paul's lines for years, this isn't surprising if true.

    It's also a "who cares?" non-story, and shows how desperate the Clinton camp truly is.

    February 18, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. John Stevens

    It is amazing that Obama compares his words to those of MLK and others. What an ego he has.

    Why does the media not call him out for such claims.

    He calls his election bid a movement – the Civil Rights Movement was and still is a movement. His election bid is NOT a movement.

    February 18, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. simon carter

    As an european watching the election hype I am a bit confused by the whole process.I am no fan of hilary but I fail to understand the "magic" of Obama.No doubt he is a good speaker but he has not had one single achievement in political life!
    HE calls himself(!!!!) visionary and that is a bit like someone asking for people"s vote saying he"s brilliant! You do things brilliantly and then people should say you are brilliant.In the same way you cannot claim to be a visionary when you have no vision at all about the future of USA and have very similar proposals as clinton! Pray tell me what Mr Obama"s visons are?!! He reminds me of the britney,lohan celebrity culture where anyone who speaks well(now we know even the words were borrowed) and presents himself well can be your next president.The media loves to jump on the bandwagon just to show it can create celebrities out of nothing!If so how about making Scarlett Johansson the next president atleast we europeans will keep the her picture in our offices!

    February 18, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Erica

    shes back to the same old games as in early january when she tried to shy away his support from white voters when she tried to bring his race to the fore-front.

    when she gets backed into a corner, desperate begats petty for Mrs. Clinton and her camp.

    This is not the way to win in November, Republicans will wipe the floor with her if she tries to nit-pick their campaigns.

    she's always talking about how she can fight back against the republicans...i sure hope this B.S. isn't what she's referring to.

    February 18, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. skh4450IL

    slow news day......tomorrow will be better!

    February 18, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. A CANUCK

    Iv'e told you guys before -Hillary is a chameleon. As soon as she hit
    Texas she adopted Obama's style and even started using the word
    "folks" which Obama has always used!! Right now she's VERY
    DESPERATE. This is just the beginning. HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS.

    February 18, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. JB, Neb

    As an Obama supporter, I wish he wouldn't even respond to such frivolous and distracting claims... is this what the Clinton campaign has been reduced to? How petty.

    February 18, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. English teacher

    kevin from alaska.

    the phrase "audacity of hope" is not Obama's. And he has admitted this in speeches and conversations. He, essentially, lifted it - but he credited the person (whose name escapes me now).

    learn your facts, indeed!

    February 18, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. John

    Hillary's campaign is in disseray. If she cannot manage a campaign, how can she manage the country.?

    February 18, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. twocool

    To all the die-hard Hillary fans, have you seen The Hillary Movie? This woman is full of tricks– this is one of them to try to dis-credit Obama. Bill has been making plenty of money "making speeches" since he left the white house.

    To all my fellow Obama supporters; just "consider the source" and it becomes clear why Hilliary is trying to make this a big issue. She is "scared" .

    OBAMA 08

    February 18, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. WISDOM

    I think those who doesn't see true Billary is either so naive or may something lack in their upstairs. I've been a political junkie ever since I realized that I made a big mistake in 2000 election. Yes! I watch more than two hours of C-SPAN everyday and I've watched almost every debates during this primary so far. Yeh! I was really tired of Bill's lies about that "I didn't inhale" or " I did not have sexual relationship with that women". So I voted for Bush because I thought that he was an honest man. But after 7 years of watching his arrogance, I really regret that I voted for him 8 years ago. I also regret that I wasn't actively involved in politics to promote not to reelect Bush in 2004 election. Now, I'm not that naive in politics and I can tell when somebody lies or avoiding to answer the facts. Initially, I thought Hillary is different. So I tried to separate her from Bill. She seemed to be very smart and caring person. Yeh! That's what I thought before I really known her better. She seem to be really honest and nice person. But then I discovered some other things about her and reevaluated her. I now know that what's really behind all those pretty face covered with smile.

    To make my point: 1) think about her voting on Iraq war and what she says about it now. 2) think about her voting "Yes" on energy bill and what she said about during the debates ("I vote for it but I was hoping it didn't go through"). 3)think about her voting for the bankruptcy reform bill and now what she says about it? Does she really care about low income family who loses their home and suffers financial burden from hefty credit card charges? If she really does care, then she shouldn't voted for these bills. So I know all that promises she makes for low income people are empty promises.

    On the other hand, I think Barack Obama is honest man at least. Who care about words? What we really care about is that what's behind those pretty words. I like his honesty, vision and hope. I think he is truly gifted with wisdom. Just being smart and having some dirty political experiences are not enough to be a good leader. Wisdom! That's it! I think Barack Obama has WISDOM.

    February 18, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. Hong

    This election is becoming uglier and more disappointing ...
    I really hope that Obama is a true leader. This country desperately needs one. However, I have to say that Obama, in his personal life, has a good dream, and in politics, is just another politician. I have not been following McCain because I don't like Bush and his team - a bunch of Republicans who have dragged this country into mud. Maybe McCain is worth considering.

    February 18, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Joe

    Fired Up and ready to go – ok they both stole that one, neither one of them is the original on that phrase, and the "can we do it, Yes we can" is a complete bootleg of "Bob The Builder" so Nickelodeon is really the only one who can claim that phrase so for him to defend a slogan he stole from a cartoon is pathetic. But to compare catch phrases to almost an entire speech is an absurdity. I truly wish they would get past slogans and speeches and actually give us a substantive comparison on what they will do as leader of this country, John McCaine is looking like the "Grown Up" candidate.

    February 18, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Jim

    Best post yet ... Good question.

    This is pretty petty on both candidates part…I just wonder if too much damage has not already been done.
    Clinton supporters, if Obama wins the nomination will you choose to vote for McCain? If not, how can you support someone that you villify so readily?
    Obama supporters, what if Hillary comes back to win, whether thru the popular vote or due to superdelegates support? Will you find it possible to campaign as vigorously for her as you have for Obama?
    If you can't answer yes to these questions, then I think Mccain is a shoe in and you can all blame yourselves for that

    February 18, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. P

    You can't copyright these spoken words.
    Anybody has the right to say them.

    All the talking points are for gullible people that don't know how to think for themselves.

    Same ol same ol. Save it for the Republicans.

    Curb the bitterness, unless you want McCain go win.

    February 18, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. SN

    how will Obama deal with problems ( if president) without Hillary ideas around? We will hear all the time : yes we can, and other slogans, but what will be done really?
    The new generation is troubling with all those shootings in Universities, all the drugs etc. How is Barack planning to deal with this? Does he have any idea? How is he thinking to deal with media -where everything is exposed, talked about but the real values? Like value of life, tolerance, education, morals, self control, global warming, respect to parents, school, older ones, nutrition and many many others?
    Hillary 08!

    February 18, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  23. Mike Birmingham, AL

    Donovan –

    I'm sure CNN is quaking at the thought of your "demands".

    As for Clinton and Obama – c'mon guys, you're starting to sound like Republicans here. Soon you'll be demanding apologies for everything!

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. From PA

    I guess Obama and Paris Hilton have one thing in common.....claiming they invented a common phrase...

    Now...whats the word for this personality.....hmmm....

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  25. Linda

    This latest smear campaign launched by Clinton is just further evidence that this unholy duo of Hilary and Bill needs to be removed from our political process once and for all. How desperate and pathetic is this woman.

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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