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. R

    Who cares?!?


    Is this really the biggest problem facing the country???
    no? Then lets move on....

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. 'Kunle

    In the typical display of bias towards Obama – which CNN is becoming more and more guilty of – the headline reads: "Clinton copies too." There is a reluctance to attach Obama's name to anything negative on CNN. The headline as it reads attaches Clinton's good name to plagiarism while there is no headline doing the same for Obama. Let's not forget that whether or not Clinton "did it too," it was Obama's plagiarism that made news first. Where is the headline on CNN? Nowhere to be found. Precious.

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Dem123

    Oh poor Obama and his cult disciples are facing the heat for once.Sometimes you can't hide behing the coat tails of your media buddies and the truth gets through.HE CLEARLY LACKS EXPERIENCE,HE IS THE OLD POLITICS AS USUAL BUT SAY IT WITH A SMILE CANDIDATE.HONESTLY OUTRAGEOUS PLAGARISM.

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. marge


    WOW!!!! I guess her support of NAFTA has really helped workers!!!!

    Or doesn't the blue collar workers know about this!!!

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Leticia

    That's why he doesn't want to debate. It's hard to improve plagiarism.

    February 18, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Raoul Duke

    After reading these comments, I weep for America. Both camps are off their rockers...

    February 18, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. aestrand

    are we really resorting to petty issues of "he said" "she said"? seriously, this is pathetic. this is a miniscule issue in comparison to everything else going on in this country right now. i'm glad obama realizes how ridiculous this is.

    OBAMA '08!

    February 18, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. concerned

    UPDATE: Obama Robbed in NY??..... what happened in NY?... why are they reporting 116 ( Obama) to 118 ( Clinton) and a recount under way... far more NEWS worthy than the Clinton camp Grasping at straws for headlines!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Marc,WSU

    Check the Update: Obama is now playing it down as a not a big deal.

    This is called BAIT N' SWITCH.

    February 18, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. liaw

    Experiences has no value when you do not have good judgment. That only blind people's eyes. When people's eyes are blind, they make wrong judgment and choose the wrong president.!!

    February 18, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Julie, Binghamton, NY

    Your employer wouldn't hire you if you walked in with someone else's resume. Why should we vote for a President who's entire support is based on what others said and did?

    February 18, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Frank


    February 18, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Tim

    You can get an F for plagiarism in college. This is serious Obama. You need to stop using other people speeches.

    February 18, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Ira D. Jinkins, Sr.


    February 18, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Phil

    Bill is NOT the Clinton that's running for president....

    February 18, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. samyr

    What a pathetic tactic by Clinton's. First they make allegations on Obama for copying the words and then when Obama responds to her, its all Obama's fault. He is the one who is childish. Clintons supporter please do some research and find out who start the fire first. Blame Clintons camp not Obama. She is being doing these things from start. Before any primary or caucus she will pick up the small mistakes from Obama and try to do the damage. She says words dont count then why are you fighting about who's words? She came with that Obama's weakest point is that he is not organized. He was very truthful in answering that. She made a point out of it. Now she says those red states and caucases dont count at all. Then why is she happy about winning New Mexico and Nevada. See Nevada people what she thinks about you. You guys dont count at all.

    Overall she is the most polarizing figure and everyone can see it.

    For all her small childish allegations there is only one answer

    SO WHAT?????????

    February 18, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Ms. Smith

    My this is some discussion! Frankly, whoever gets elected - I have a long laundry list of "changes" I want her/him to implement from day one. To begin with - I want universal health care (good, quality, affordable care for all, with no exceptions). Second, I want the U.S. out of Iraq with intelligence, honor, and as much speed as possible. Three, I want billions of dollars spent in infrastructure improvements/updates. Fourth, I want a real 21st century green energy policy. Fifth, I want a true global effort to end poverty and terrorism. Sixth, I want public policy that recognizes we need to develop a job base where everyone isn't expected to be a doctor, lawyer, politician, lobbyist, or investor to own a home and send their children to college. Seventh, I want a "public" school system that actually works. Eighth, I want a foreign policy that protects us from our enemies, helps our friends, and has enough common sense to know the difference. Ninth, I want our export policy NOT to include arming the world with weapons (which are then purchased by our enemies and pointed in our direction). Tenth, I want some common courtesy extended to people who have opposing political views. Hey - get the message folks.

    February 18, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Fatima

    hkitty wrote:

    "The problem is not that one candidate is co-opting the words of another. It is that Obama is presenting his words as the center-piece of his election, rather than policy. As a result, his words have to be his own. As he has said, words matter. Well, they matter less when they are not your own and you have nothing of substance to back it up. Besides, we could also give credit to Bob the Builder for "yes we can" as well as Cesar Chavez. So ," yes we can" does not belong to Obama, he coopted from others and it is being co-opted from him. The problem is then there is nothing left."

    Obama has never said his words are the centerpiece of his campaign. The media said so, not Obama. It is the media who branded Obama as te great speaker (when the truth is that Hillary is just as good a speaker). And by branding him the great speaker and orator. The centerpiece of Obama's campaign are his policies and plans, not his words.

    February 18, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. Jennifer

    Bill and Hillary Clintons will go as the DIRTIEST POLITICIANS of all time. Once again, they have resolved to DIRTY and NEGATIVE campaigning having realized there was no way both of them could beat this articulate, fresh and amazing politician called Obama.

    They will end up stealing the nomination, but will be put to shame in the general election.


    February 18, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. DP

    Who has there own words,they all have writers?????? What is the big deal and if you have friends so what. Clinton camp are you serious????

    Is that that the kind of President you want dirty

    Obama 08/12

    February 18, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Lilarose in Oregon

    Enough of this crap!

    If I have to keep reading about the kindergarteners, Obama and Clinton, with more childish antics, I just WON'T VOTE!

    February 18, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Binh


    Clinton's blatantly borrowed everything from "Change" to "Yes she will"!
    If Patrick doesn't think it's a concern that his friend borrowed some words, I don't think the Clintonites should make such a big deal of a non-issue!

    February 18, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Carlos, MD

    First Hillary says that words don't matter. In response Obama uses the most famous phrases in U.S. history which many people use including Gov. Patrick. Now Hillary is critisizing Obama for using famous words of past U.S. Leaders. So, which is it Hillary? Do words matter or not?

    I find it hard to believe this is getting so much attention.

    One Democrat Attacking another Democrat for using famous phrases of past Democratic leaders. I can't wait for this Primary to be over.

    February 18, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. josh


    February 18, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Roberta Shaw

    I agree with Obama that this is not a big deal. Friends share words all the time. My question is why are the Clintons making such an uproar if "words "are empty. I thnk anything to be negative is their point .

    February 18, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31