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. s callahan

    No one is dignified in this jr high talk about who said what.
    Stay focused on issues, how is it going to change so we can buy our groceries, get our gas, pay our mortgages (or rent), pay our taxes, pay our health care, and still save. .How is the governement going to lower our taxes; seek new energy supports; what's going to be done to help our soliders come home, and still help the Iraz people to reamin free and stablized in their land? Answer the questions by giving your ideas. We want this election to be true issued focused. We are so much stronger as a nation when the focus is about bringing us all together. Stop the bickering.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Martin

    Oh my God, how is he going to handle some world leaders who want to destroy America and what it stands for. He needs to be stopped before its to late.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Brian Tampa, FL

    Words mean nothing to either. They say what they think their people want to hear. Clinton is worse about it than Obama but at least she throws in a specific every now and then. He just talks in high minded rhetoric anyone could agree with. The devil as always is in the details which he is very fuzzy on.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. KMac

    Too bad Hillary's only supporters are apparently on these boards, otherwise she would hold more than 1/3 of the wins up to now. "Fired up" is a longtime military slogan that doesn't belong to anyone, but Clinton has, for the entire campaign, taken slogans and ideas from the Obama campaign. Which is why it's amazing that she would even bring this up.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Nicholas

    actually s.b. Obama used "Fired up and ready to go" in Durham, N.C. long before the Iowa caucus. Nice try, but I am sorry you don't know what you are talking about.

    February 18, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. Tom

    and these two are uniters?? HAHAHAHA - Whats wrong with democrats?!? This is just sad

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  7. Ryan Rogerson

    As I sit here and read this I wonder how far her campain will try to take this into the mud. We all thought there is no way the democrats could burn there own barn but I think Sen. Clinton would take it there if she had to just for the nomination and ruin the presidential campain for the dems in the process.

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. Gaby

    Anyone can give speeches, but it is how they are delivered . Obama has true sincerity and concern for the American voters. Where HC only has a sincerity to return to the White House, and willing to include the Florida MIchigan delegates, disregarding the voters choice.

    Notice he is a man of his words, did not campaign in Florida and Michigan as agreed upon.

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. sally

    AJ, don't worry, many Hillary supporters are staying home because this primary has been so undemocratic and a sham.

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. HillaryintheWhiteHouseNow


    Who cares if this is a non-story?? We've got Drudge and CNN hyping it like it actually matters! And the idiots who watch CNN and read Drudge will now think that it matters!! Hillary all the way to the White House, baby!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. hillary over obama

    You go Eddie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Voters are caught up in his mountain of promise, hope and internet- along with the unpres. "obama girl" Arent people embarraced – allowing themselves to be taken in by such a typical candidate.
    He gives himself too much credit.

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Ted McDonough

    Hillary's not running on a hope and change platform.....Obama is....the point is Barack ,you're slowly getting exposed as non-original and someone who will not change anything. I just hope America figures it out in time.

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Obama Girl

    Obama has the right to defend himself against ridiculous attacks from the Clinton camp - I hardly would construe his comments as "whining." And to those who say that he has no substance, you obviously have not been paying attention. Look at his website and try actually LISTENING to the man with an open mind and you will hear his policies and ideas.

    Come on, Hillary, you know it's over - I have faith that one day I will vote for a woman for President, but that woman is NOT you!

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Margaret D

    Aj I totally agree with you.....I will vote for McCAin if i have to I will not ever vote for obama he is sweet talker and that is it...............I wonder ,he doesn't have a clue about the US Presidency ..he

    February 18, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Jack, White male, 55


    – In 1992, Bill was competing with Bush (2-VP, 1-President), what experience did Bill had other than a governer of a small southern state?

    – Just because someone has experience doesn't make him/her qualified. It's all about being "smart". His judgements are good compared to Hillary who NEVER accepts her mistakes.

    When asked about any question or about any mistake she did, instead of answering the questions, she starts to blame him.


    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Praetorian, Fort Myers, FL

    Despite the insane agenda's–bordering on socialism–and getting much support from the U.S Democratic Socialist Party...because of their "Robin Hood" agenda's, and love of bureaucratic management of everything from aids–to zoology, these two morons are leading.

    I was a lifelong Democrat. Now I'm an independent.

    The silly posturing, the sweeping programs to address some of the least important priorities–all make them seem opportunistic and shallow.

    Who cares who they qoute, steal from, or plagiarize!! Their message is one and the same. And it's scary!!

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Latino

    If you don't have a lot of your own words, took from others' speeches would be fine by the Obama's standard.

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Benjamin Roth

    There is one very big difference here though. One candidate has based their candidacy on the power of words, the other on the power of actions and results. So which one of these platforms suffers more from accusations of plagiarism? Sen. Obama needs to be held accountable for every hypocritical detail that emerges in this campaign, in the same way that Sen. Clinton is. Its not negative, its not petty fighting, it is a push for some much needed accountability!

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. Cindy in Boston

    This is not news CNN

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. writer28

    I don't understand why anyone really cares about whether someone 'stole' speeches. The candidates don't write the speeches anyway.

    Don't we have more important things to think about than nit-picking about speeches? What's important is how each of these candidates will deal with very serious problems that America has, such as getting troops our of Iraq, the economy, jobs, etc.

    Squabbling over speeches? Stupid. Get a life, people. Concentrate on the serious issues.

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. Rob

    I'm really tired of Hillary and her tactics. I was on the fence but she's getting ridiculous. If she wins the nomination I'm going to hold my nose and vote for McCain

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. FLA

    This is getting a little silly now. The original point that was being made is that Obama talks about change and how he practices a different kind of politics and yet he copies speeches other politicians have made – or makes speeches where the message is very very similar. The point was not the exact copying, but the fact that what he was saying was not his original idea, it was not this incredible change from politics we are already seeing.

    Hillary had and still has to some extent the problem that she was the "inevitable" candidate and now no longer looks inevitable. Obama is running into a problem now also. He is the "change" candidate that does not look very different from other candidates. His "change" is Duvall's speech from 2006 (and also Hillary's economic plan).

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Matt John

    Obama, you lose all your clout as a "uniter" and "above the fray" when you play tit-for-tat.

    You are proving to be "more of the same" for Washington with such silliness, despite your claim to the opposite.

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. memyself

    Obama won't debate Hillary!

    ... oh he's debated her 18 times and there's 2 more scheduled ... nevermind.

    Obama says things that sound like someone else who had a similar message!

    ..oh Hillary's copying Obama's exact wording of several signature campaign themes ... nevermind.

    Then there was that whole foolish message from Hillary's campaign about what Obama said when he was in kindergarten. (1) Sheesh

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that Hillary has NOTHING relevant to say. She should go back to her carpetbagging in NY and leave running the country to somebody with substance.

    (1) Quote from Time magazine about Hillary Clinton's foolishness: She even went so far as to dig up a kindergarten essay of Obama's entitled "I Want to Be President" to accuse him of lying about not having a lifelong lust for the Oval Office. "

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. danny

    In Obama's speech where he stole the "just words" speech, he also stole "roll up our sleeves" from Hillary. He has also stolen a line from the film Man of the Year with Robin Williams: "We are not a nation of red states or of blue states; we are the United States of America".

    February 18, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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