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. T

    Seems to me Hillary is the one who is whining. They both need to grow up.

    February 18, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. James R

    Perhaps Senator Clinton's people should follow Senator Obama to the grocery store to ensure that he also doesn't purchase items which others ahead of him in the checkout line have also purchased. Then she'd be able to reveal that he also has no conscience in making up his own shopping list.
    Would someone please explain to this woman that is running her campaign on the accomplishments(?) of her husband, and using the same catch phrases now that Obama has been using since the start of his campaign that there are more important issues to deal with than these petty complaints that seem to bother her as much as they do!

    February 18, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Shavarous

    Two Tattle Tells.. Go Obama 08! No Clinton/s 08.

    February 18, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Zilpha

    I wonder how Cezar Chavez feels about Obama stealing, excuse me, sampling his "Yes We Can" slogan (Sí se peude). And the "Fired up" stuff he even admits having co-opted from a minister down south.

    February 18, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Mark

    I knew there was something fake about Obama...Now that confirms my belief!

    OBAMA IS A FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. James

    Obama’s entire speech was almost exactly like Deval’s speech from 2006. Under any other circumstances this is considered plagiarism.

    This is not the change I want.

    HILLARY 2008THE SMART CHOICE!!!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Denis, NJ

    Most people seem to be forgetting that most, if not all, of Obama's rhetoric is borrowed from John Edwards' 2004 and early 2008 campaigns. That "YES WE CAN" slogan was used originally by Edwards, and he coined the whole "change" movement before Obama took off with it. So Obama, of all people, should keep quiet about who lifted whose speeches.

    February 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. helm

    I apologize for echoing the "language" and "shared ideas" of fellow posters, but please grow up.

    February 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Annette Swift

    So What ! Do you know how many speeches or words have been taking from other speeches ! Please, let's stay focus on the issues.

    February 18, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Soren

    It is all over for Hillary. The leadership of the democratic party better
    start to realize this soon, before they allow the Clintons to totally
    blow up the party and make McCain the absolute winner.
    Who is in charge? Pelosi, Reid, Dean???

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Natasha/Supporter of Obama

    Are you people serious?

    Again we don't need a woman with all the emotional tricks running the White House. This is very childish and I think Clinton camp have shown their weakness. They had to regroup the staff and this is their best shot....... LOL Talking about experience & unorganized.......This is not what I look forward to in the years to come. She has not managed her camp, so how do you expect her to manage America. The trickery of a woman should not be underestimated. (Adam & EVE) Guess what, I see right through Hillary R.Clinton..............RU serious people.........IT only takes common sense, not the media.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. jj

    OH come on, is Obama saying that he's the only one to use the "Change" word. Oh come on, try Bush. Scarey isn't it. He's making all the same promises Bush did, also with no answers forcoming. I'm sorry but at this time in our history, we need someone who knows what's going on and how to get things done. Until we get out of this mess Bush got us into, I don't care if it's the same ol same ol politics, if it gets the job done for now. We're too fragile right now for a newbee to learn at our country's expense. That is what I wish Obama would really think about. OUR COUNTRY and not his personal wants & needs. Once he's got experience and knows how to get things done, then he may be a good president.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Gene

    This is the kindergarten papers thing all over from the Billary campaign. Big yawn to Billary.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. J. Doe

    If a candidate's only strategy for winning is to dig up dirt on their opponent than that's what they'll do while in office. What the world needs is a candidate that can earn back our country's respect in the world and that starts with the leader's character. Both Barrack and McCain have great character and that's what country needs.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Carl

    Why are you all saying that Obama is whining? He is just trying to show you all the Hillary isn't always telling facts and that she is the master of spin. Why is it when he merely points out the facts do you say he is being a baby? Hillary is the one trying to be the bully and pull these old washington tricks. Well, I am on to her and hope so much she doesn't win. I just can't take all this BS! I have a feeling these next two debates will be utterly Worthless! Please lets talk about policy not she said he said again...jeez.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Katmido

    If this is Hillary's technique to win then her ship is going down. It shows her desperation. Does everyone now have to start crediting their speechwriter? " According to my speechwriter, I have the solutions..." Phuleeze. Give me a break.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. why o why

    LOL BHO ! Please, BHO's entire speech was taken from Deval. If he's going to come back with an attack at least say something substantial. No one' s listening to you anymore.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. kathleen, illinois

    To Senator Clinton: I thought that words did not matter.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Sandra Los Angeles, CA

    Baraxk Began using FIRED UP READY TO GO during mid-2007. It was created by an Obama supporter in South Carolina and was then adopted by the Obama campaign as a rallying cry across the country.
    Please be infomed before you say that he copied it from Clinton, he didnt!

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. bond

    Just further proof that Billary is the most polarizing politician alive. If she wins the nomination & the presidency (god help us) there will be nothing but the worst gridlock & partisan politics in the history of congress. Nothing will get accomplished. That's the big picture period!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Carol for Hillary!

    BO has demonstrated once again that he doesn't have an original thought! He's praised for all his speaking ability, but even that is not his own. Go Hillary!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. James

    Yes We Can and Fired Up, Ready to Go were not invented by Obama and almost every campaign would use phrases like these.

    Copying someone else's speeches is a whole different matter especially when you are promoting change.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Jim Lee

    Their ship is sinking, and as expected, Bill and Hillary are going down kicking and screaming. They don't seem to realize that their scorched-earth, vindictive, paranoid, win-at-all costs mentality is the very reason so many of their fans have become so disillusioned with them.

    They should exit gracefully and preserve some shred of dignity for themselves. Of course, we all know that will never happen. Very sad.

    February 18, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Amy, Kazoo

    ACTUALLY, obama lifted YES WE CAN from Bob the Builder a show that's been on PBS longer than Obama has been in the senate. which was like a hot minute anyway.... hope those writers are getting royalties.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Anthony, CA

    This pretty much ended Biden's presidential run when it was revealed that he "borrowed" speeches. But I think Obama's supporters have had too much kool aid to notice that their candidate is all rhetoric and no action...I'm sorry, all "borrowed" rhetoric and no action.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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