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. C

    All I have to say is that the debate on Thursday is going to be a hot, ghetto mess. Why? Because Hillary is a hot ghetto mess. So petty and uncalled for.

    Notice how Hillary copies off of Barack–but yet he hasn't used a single ideology from her. Why? Because she hasn't said anything worth quoting.

    February 18, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. stanjz

    Senator Obama didn't say " Senator Clinton copied too" CNN is at it again manipulating and twisting his words to try and make him sound childish. CNN should just come out and endorse Senator Clinton, but that isn't as effective, is it. It works much better and you get more credibility when you pose as a legitimate news organization.

    OBAMA NEVER SAID " CLINTON COPIED TOO" Senator Obama said he collaborated with is supporter and friend on this. Senator Obama then said Senator Clinton stole his campaign lines, he never used the childish line " copied too"

    There needs to be an investigation with the FCC on CNN. This is getting too bizzare, with twisting words.

    February 18, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Ian Tepoot

    To all of you saying that "Obama complains about Hillary using his rhetoric?..."

    I think your logic circuits are switched to the off position. He was not the one to bring it up, he says clearly about her chameleon-like use of his themes "I don't think its a big deal..."

    The clear and obvious reason he is bringing it up in response is because it highlights the HYPOCRISY of Clinton's arguments. Much the same way her Reagan praise highlighted that hypocrisy.

    Btw, both Deval and Obama share and discuss their similar vision and movement, and freely exchange ideas, as Deval himself pointed out (and added that he had riffed on themes from Obama also).

    February 18, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. j.j

    I think Deval did a better job on the delivery of the speech.

    I think Obama and his camp are trying to pull a sneaky on the America people!

    Good thing youtube is here you no by the people for the people!!

    February 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Chris

    Wow, there really are *no* depths to which the Clinton camp isn't prepared to sink. This is disgraceful–absolutely a sign of their desperation. HRC will do *anything* to claw her way to victory, even if she has to pull down one of the best candidates we've seen in decades in the process. Shame on them. Every time I see Billary play these dirty tricks, I just send more money to the Obama camp.

    February 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Christopher

    I am finally g lad that the cult is out of the bag. This cult movemnt and momentum is exaclty what makes me not want any part of the Obama clan. HRC has the power, knowledge and experience to become or next commander in cheif. Preachers are meant for the church not for politics. I want a leader and an individual who can not only have dignity with her peers but with other nations as HRC has already done as First Lady.
    Take a good look at what has just been exposed? We need change thats true, and HRC is Change, being a first woman in office will prove that initself. I was an advate CNN watcher but I am so turned off by its biased news that I look else where for facts.
    Do they get paid royalties for backing Obama? Hmmmm makes you wonder, why they dont give eqaul air time for the First Lady.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton "O8"

    February 18, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Pedro

    SB, there's a story behind "fired up" that far precedes the Iowa caucuses... The notion that Barack Obama somehow stole "fired up" from the dull, uninspiring, shrewish Clinton is risible and the argument tenuous at best. Face it: your candidate already lost... Even WITH Florida and Michigan, she'd still be behind by about a dozen delegates, and unless she won Texas and Ohio by overwhelming margins, she would still come up short.

    Obama '08

    February 18, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Michelle in Philly

    If Obama is acting like this when Hillary attacks him, what is he going to do when the Republicans attack him? Cry like a baby? Oh wait he'll steal something from someone else and use as his own, and his Obamazombies will accept it

    February 18, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Jordan

    Hey, Hillary, if words don't matter, why don't you do us all a favor and stop talking. While you're at it, why don't you start citing your staff, husband, rivals, colleagues, and pundits when you give your speeches– after all, you "borrow" from all of them quite heavily, particularly Obama.

    This is the pettiest thing I've ever heard– Obama asked a friend and colleague for advice, and then he used that advice. He had Deval's consent.
    Please, don't vote for Hillary– don't tell future polititions that this is the way to win.

    February 18, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Steve

    This is why I'm glad the Republicans have a clear nominee for the election.

    February 18, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. GDK

    This childish accusation is the new version of "Hillary cries"...

    Another "trick" she got out of the bag, just one day before the Wisconsin elections.

    Dirty politics at its best...

    This thing will hit Hillary back.

    People may have thought that her New Hampshire tears were real...but now it's just too much...only a fool wouldn't understand that this is another desperate last hour "trick"...

    Voting for W. was like ellecting "W., the idiot"

    Voting for Hillary would be like ellecting "Hillary, the dodger"...

    February 18, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. vanessa

    It's bad enough when sexist men use the 'emotional' card on a woman, but coming from another woman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am glad you support Obama, as the saying goes... 'birds of a feather flock together'

    February 18, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Chester

    The point is this, Hillary states that she WILL do something. This statement indicates that action is going to follow. Obama says he "can" do something. This indicates that the action considered is possible, it can be done, but it may not be done. This is a typical, lackluster tackling of the issues we can expect from a senator who "votes" "present" 200 times on difficult issues.

    February 18, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. Steve, NYC, NY

    Thank You Dennis... (quoted) 🙂

    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 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. William, Chicago IL

    Have mercy God, she's left with no other choice!

    February 18, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. Gavin


    I'm voting with more depth. Speeches and chant–especially plagarized ones–won't matter to me and my family, my job, etc. in the future.


    February 18, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. wanu

    Ian Teppot,
    of course Obama would say it was not a big deal. He is the one who has been caught red-handed, plagiarizing the speech, not she.

    February 18, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. eddie

    Obama is absolutely phoney. The only thing awe inspiring about him is his ability to manipulate the minds of the young into voting for an empty politician.

    February 18, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. dem08

    I knew it! I knew we were going to see the real Obama come out sooner or later! He is such a fake . The speech he said was the same as Deval Patrick. All this time people thinking how good of a speaker he is wiht his speeches. What a fake! He copied Hillary's economic plan and now he copied Deval Patrick's speech. He is nothing but a joke! Obama is calling on us to hire him as our next President, ask yourself, Do you really what to hire a person who is showing us how he can't think for himself. When you are caught coping or cheating in life that says a lot about yourself. You are seen as not being credible. He is not mentally mature to be our president at this time. There is to much at stake in our country at this time and i don't think i will be voting for him. I will be voting for Hillary or McCain.

    February 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Stephen

    If I were in college, and I had a friend who wrote a paper, could I hand that same paper in too with his permission?

    When you take someones ideas without giving them credit that is plagiarism, permission means nothing.

    February 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Jerry

    Heres from the New York Times today about Mrs. Clinton

    Many of her applause lines reprise the rhetoric employed by former Senator John Edwards, who dropped out of the presidential contest late last month after running on an explicitly populist economic message.

    Mrs. Clinton told her audience that the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday and subsequent contests are “a chance for all of you here to help take our country back.

    The oil companies, the drug companies, have had seven years of a president who stands up for them,” she says, looking directly into the camera. “It’s time we had a president who stands up for all of you.”

    If I didn't know better, she stole these lines from John Edwards and Barack Obama.

    February 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. vanessa

    i am so glad someone brought up the name: cesar chavez... people, be careful what you wish for, you may get it.... CESAR CHAVEZ / OBAMA.. Need I say more??? wake up people.. it's too late for venezuelan's now.

    February 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. Thimbletack

    Well lets hope it doesnt come down to who we would rather sit and have a beer with or were really in trouble again.

    February 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. Terry

    I agree Ian Tepoot

    February 18, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Scott

    Let's stop playing around, what Obama has done is called PLAGIARISM !!!!! What a "trustworthy" guy !!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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