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. L, TN

    He is a cry baby. He knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on when it comes to real hard work. He is a 19th century stump salesman selling false working goods. He talks a good deal–don't buy it, you'll get burned. I am so sick of everyone having to go back and explain what he really said, what he really did, why he was present and no vote, why Regan was good for anything, why he (voted????) against the war. Get real people this job is not for small boy's. Did you learn nothing with Bush?

    February 18, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Tim, MN

    "Fired Up, Ready to Go" is an Obama's signature pharse? Uh, I first heard that pharse by watching the Power Rangers years ago. This was by far the worse come back by the Obama's camp, you copied other people ideas, Hillary was just using a common phrase that society have been used for a LONG time!

    February 18, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. JB

    Full disclosure:

    I voted and intend on voting (in the GE) for Obama.

    Regardless of who wins the primary nod, the Clinton camp is bringing this election to a much lower level on a daily basis. This will only ultimately HURT the party.

    Contrary to your belief Mrs. Clinton, this isn't "fun", it isn't flattering, and it will only ensure McCain's presidency.

    Cut it out. Your win at all costs method is disgusting. Grow up and act like an adult who wants to be one of the most respected people in this country!!!

    February 18, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. spottie

    I tell you what all of you who don't like Obama, run for president
    yourselves and see how far you get...

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. Minneapolis

    I agree with Joann. All I hear is whining and complaining like a school child from the Obama camp. Also, I'm sick of hearing him say change, change, change. Are there any specifics to this change? I haven't heard anything except the word used over and over like pointless rhetoric. It's like when Bush gives a speech overusing the words freedom or liberty. The words lose their meaning.

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Samantha, Davie, Florida

    The "Yes, We Can" slogan isn't exactly original either. Didn't Sammy Davis, Jr. write a book called "Yes, I can" a long time ago?

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Nancy

    CNN put her audiences away, poeple tired on CNN's bias, come on! CNN, you need to keep your neutrality when you report, this is your position.
    Neutral !!! Worf.

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hillary's campaign has chosen to use Obama's words in an attempt to confuse voters, good try but it won't work. Hillary's constant attacks on Obama won't work either but she has nothing else to offer as a result of her campaign derailing. Obama is simply the best. Vote Obama.

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Rochester

    Obama is guilty of using Cesar Chavez slogan "Si Se Puede" aka "Yes we can". So don't tell me he is not guilty of using other peoples words or slogans. Google, Cesar Chaves slogan, and see what come up. Who is guilty now?

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. MJ - Bethlehem, PA

    No matter if you support Obama or Clinton, the below are facts:

    1.) The Clinton campaign has understimated the Obama campaign from the start.

    2.) The Clinton campaign is alienating Obama supporters for the general election, if she indeed wins the nomination. Obama supporters will not just roll over and play dead and vote for Clinton if she wins the nomination, and thst is because of campaign tacticts like this.

    3.) The Clinton campaign needs to realize that if she is nominated, she will need every vote she can get in the general election...and distractions such as this will not benefit the Clinton campaign in the long run. Inedependents and republicans will surely side with Mccain if Clinton is the democratic choice.

    February 18, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. William Gair

    Ok children. Time to grow up. Issues, issues, issues – that's where it's at. Stop wasting your time and ours.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Gaby

    Hillary borrows Obama's rhetoric, as noted in the news article.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Caroll

    Is that the best Obama can do? Think that he has invented every good idea, and every good cliche??? He is an egotist. Every politician talks about change, and every politician uses similar cliches to catch attention. Does Obama think he is the only one who people listen to???

    Good luck Obama. Hillary will win anyway.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. my computer printer was busted for Plagarism

    Way to play snitch hillary. Remember how people treated Linda Tripp for snitching. Poor form.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Misty Seattle,WA

    I like how Hillary says "words don't matter" but now that she has changed her message yet again those same words do matter? I don't get the logic.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. bjobear

    There's a difference between using common catch phrases and lifting entire sections from other people's speeches. The issue for me is that Obama campaign has some how manged to elevate their candidate above having his authenticity questioned...and the questioning is just beginning. If this is an example of the response we should expect from him and his organization on this minor topic, I have to wonder how he will perform handling significant challenges.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Katmido

    Hillary's camp started it. Went through the trouble of matching up two YouTube videos side by side. Obama had to answer. The thing is, you can't copyright catch phrases. I mean how many ways can you say something like I have the answers or I want to make a change? Eventually they are all going to sound like someone else. They all sound alike anyway. Clinton is grasping at straws. She thought she would have this locked up by now. She thought she was the anointed one – the entitled one. Watch the movie ELECTION with Reese Witherspoon. Hillary is just like that character.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Lisa Salt Lake City, Utah

    Obama has the support of the people's words that he has used. Hillary doesn't.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. SPQR753

    To all Obama supporters:

    Let's be quite frank: when someone makes a speech using almost the same WORDS as those used in the speech of someone else, that is called PLAGIARISM !

    When Obama PLAGIARIZES some other politician, it only means that he is starting to be short on arguments and ideas.....how sad!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Mac

    It's a shame Obama didn't over-rule Governor Patrick who didn't want credit by saying "to quote Governor Patrick .......", but Clinton's use of Obama's slogans is unforgivable.

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. EBK

    I am an Obama supporter but frankly getting sick of both their whining. This is ridiculous!!! And I hope they get to the issues and not these silly little comments. It's absolutely ridiculous on both parts. Hillary shouldn't have started and Obama shouldn't have responded. Obama, focus on other things and let's win this!!

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Peter Cananda 4 Obama!

    Well at least Obama didn't quote any words from her, but I can testify that I have heard Hillary and her fans using Yes We Can on several occasion. You know what, it okay when you ranout of ideas , words and borrow from the best. Hillary there is a saying if you can't beat them you join them, so it is okay you borrow ideas and words from our next president obama. You won't be charged, becuase you used it for a good course.
    Yes We Can.

    I will be mad if I hear Obama using Hillary ideas of taken money from lobbyiest and specail interest. Hillary also copy Obama economic plans. You know what guys it is good if Hillary copied Obama, because it shows Obama is more knowledgeable. Hillary keep copying there more words and ideas from our next President Obama

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Nina

    This will be my first time to vote republican if Obama is nominated. To the conment by the DEMOCRAT, where is YOUR tax returns. I would dare say that all the people that that you call old and uneducated supporters of Hillary Clinton paid for the educations of the Obama supporters which has not been paid back yet. In fact Obama didn't pay his back until he started running for President..

    February 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Tanya

    Ha ha ha! So what if a mimic stole some words from someone else?

    February 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Wayne

    St. Obama is perfect in every way, he is the light, the truth, and they only WAY!!!! Bow down to him and praise his plagiarized bellowing!

    February 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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