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. Frank

    Hillary is so desperate and clutching at straws.

    February 18, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. mbm2008

    This is silly on both parts. Although if Clinton says words don't matter, then why should she care? I also find it humorous that in her last few stump speeches she has unsuccessfully tried to get her crowd to chant "Yes We Will"....hmmmm sound familiar ? If she accuses him of copying , then why is she copying him?

    February 18, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Rick

    Plagiarism ended Joe Biden's 1992 campaign. Its a serious thing that would have gotten Obama expelled from college. Has Obama plagiarized before? If so, when?

    February 18, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. rasil4u

    If this is the only charge that Billary can claim, what a desperate move. This charge is so petty and shows what this ganster of a woman will resort to. She is scared to death because she literally felt the sense of entitlement and now is trying to save face. She is a loser, the country knows it and so does she. If per chance that suspected backroom deal is orchestrated as so many of us suspect, I declare....I will vote for McCain. Never will I vote for a Clinton or a Bush. really is there any difference. Change is on its way and she knows it better than anyone else. As I have commented before, Billary will do ANYTHING to get into the WhiteHouse including the breaking of your kneecap. She is desperado at this point. I pray that Barack wins by landslide so that this witch will hang up her shoes and go back where she belongs in Arkansas. What a disgrace to the Democratic party. When you are an imposter you can not run your racket over extended periods of time. The real evil spirit is rearing its ugly head again. That last debate was not a debate at all. Polite ans anything. Watch how nasty and attacking she will be on Thursday's debate..just watch. She will lie, lie, lie. Go Barack. maintain your dignity and integrity which your oppent has never known. Yes, we can!!!!! Yes we can!!!!! Yes we can!!!!!.

    February 18, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. Jack

    I am so tired of people saying that Clinton supporters are not informed.

    I am very imformed and I support Hillary. Those who are so imformed about Hillary that hate her have yet to give any real reason why I should not. Everyone talks about these things Hillary and her campaign have done, but I find no evidence.

    So when someone can give me facts, I will become more informed. FYI, going to web-site and claiming its factual is stupid. I can create a web-site and claim its fact, so don't send me to one that has no basis in fact.

    If Hillary did not have the last name Clinton, you guys would have little to talk about.

    February 18, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Ohio Citizen

    Let's get back to issues that the voters really are interested in. For example, why Hillary Clinton will not release her tax returns. Why does she refuse to release them? Is there something in there she does not want the voters to know about. If there is nothing to hide, why not release them. Far more important than what is said, is what is done. Witholding pertinent information from the American people is problematic. The people deserve to know how the Clintons earn their money. Transparency plese.

    February 18, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Ray - NJ

    I do think the Media brought this up first, not Clinton.

    February 18, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Ken B.

    So now Obama is reduced to, "Hillary did it, too.". Is that the best this mighty orator, who's campain seems to largely be about his campaign, can muster? Wow! Impressive!

    February 18, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. aggiemom

    Sounds to me like someone was listening closely and trying to pick out something they could go with and this is so pathetic. Is this the best your campaign people can do Mrs.Clinton? Sounds like same ole Clinton politics to me.

    If this is all you can get, that he copied someones words. Well, I say things like that all the time, I didn't know I was stealing words.

    In fact when I first heard it, I thought about Dr. King, ~I have a dream~ not the governor.

    Sounds like Hillary's campaign is struggling and looking for anything and Obama's campaign is replying...
    I would never vote for Hillary because of the Clinton dirty politics. I am a white female in the middle income range from TEXAS.

    Anyone for her should remember everything she and her husband have done in their policital lives. Lets remember her having to bring back items from the White House that were taken when they left, and Hillary supporters want her back in OUR White House, I don't think so.

    Texans for OBAMA 08

    February 18, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Wm in Plnfld

    What should concern people is that a nominee for President is borrowing a line from Bob the Builder.

    February 18, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. RobertG

    Is this plagiarism? Well, I guess that depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

    February 18, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Wolfe

    He did it...no she did it!! I really want to vote for some change in government, but if these two keep acting like they are 5 fighting over who knocked over a vase..... I will place my vote somewhere else

    February 18, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. libaax10

    what words Obama uses matter.. Sure, why not? because that is what his campaign is based on.... big speeches!!!

    Get real Obama-whiners....

    February 18, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Sue Mazur

    A campaign is a war of sorts and "The Art of War," dictates that one does not let a tiny ember smolder into a blazing inferno and burn you in the process. Senator Obama is wise to respond to the slightest Clinton attack before it takes on a life of it's on. It may seem childish to some , however, the bottom line is this: Defend your reputation with your life; it's all you really have. Go Obama.

    February 18, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Megan

    Can someone please explain to me what experience Hillary has? My husband has been in advertising for 20 years, can I put that I have advertising experience on my resume? Bill was president, her time in the White house was as a "wife". And she created enemies and her health care plan was a disaster. I only see that she has a few more years senatorial experience over Obama.

    I also think Bill will always be a distraction and can't see her really leading this coutnry and working with middle eastern leaders on her own.

    Obama is fresh and inspiring, those petty comments about his name or his religion show how desperate Clintonites have become.

    February 18, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Anna, SW Missouri

    I can't wait for Obama to go to Texas and remind the Texans and the rest of the country what Ross Porot said in the 1992 debates when Bill Clinton was backing NAFTA. It was something like this "That swoshing sound you hear will be all of those manufacturing jobs being suck across the border to Mexico" My husband's sister lived in Texas after that and the economy sunk and lot's of jobs were lost and the housing market bottomed out. Ohio is suffering from it still today. How can they possibly support someone that was so for the exact thing that hurt them so badly?

    We also lost the House and Senate in 1994 because the Democrats were so sick of the Clintons (Bill-NAFTA, and Hillary-health care). The unions refused to get out the vote, and most Americans refused to go to the election poll, because these two had turn their back to us.

    Hillary is already showing America that she is turning her back to all of the supporters in the states that she didn't win. Just wait till she is in the White House, and 3/4 of the American people will no longer matter to her.

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Sue in PA

    is it plagarism to say, "why can't we all just get along?"......

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. kristine

    oh really the Clinton campaign is grasping at straws and this latest dust-up is just silly.

    Has anyone seen a list of the lines that Hillary has borrowed from both Obama and Edwards?

    Additionally, Obama's friend Patrick, suggested he use the lines!

    Just more tempest in a teapot.

    I can not believe that I ever considered voting for Hillary.

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Sally, San Antonio, TX

    We need to know the truth about Obama. After all, he has not been subjected to the srutiny that Hillary has over her career. It is best to find out about him now before it is too late. Sometimes the truth hurts!

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. Charles

    Dear Clinton campaign members, GROW UP! I'm sure if Hillary or Bill's speeches were looked at, a little borrowing of words took place as well. Either Hillary has nothing left to help her losing position or simply likes slinging any dirt no matter how petty. Both candidates will rely on their advisors if elected anyhow to help in decision making. IN THE END THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE...MAY IT BE SENATOR OBAMA! Yeah I borrowed that line.

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  21. KT

    I don't care who borrowed phrases. I just wish we had a candidate who cared about what real Americans need. We need to save our homes, jobs, affordable health care and a good education for our children.

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. Anna, IL

    Hahaha. Howard Wolfson is a joke. Chris Matthews pointed out to Wolfson on Hardball for stealing Obama's line, "Kick the tires." Wolfson used the line and said didn't even know that it was Obama's line. Hillary uses "Yes we can" all the time.

    Just search "Howard Wolfson Steals Barack Obama Line" on Youtube.

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. Nan

    and YES WE CAN isn't Obama's line ... he stole it from the little engine that could 😉 !!!

    February 18, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. kmichelle

    Obama leads an inspirational, positive, optimistic campaign.

    Hillary leads a negative, sarcastic, cynical campaign.

    Which attributes would you rather be lead by??????

    February 18, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. emj2740

    Why I despise the Clintons? Oh 'give me a break' do I really have to explain it at this point? The fact remains Hillary cannot win the general election. Only about half the democrats will support her since she ran such a lying, cheating, nasty campaign against Obama. The rest will hold their noses and vote for McCain. Obama brings in Republicans, like myself, and independents as well. So 1/2 the dems vs. the other half, some Republicans, and some independents. It realy is that simply but go ahead and live in denial and put Hillary in there and watch teh next Republican get elected. Wait, depising the Clintons is not a strong enough word...hate comes to mind. The Clintons suck. (or in Bill's case the opposite is true).

    February 18, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
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