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. G. A

    I have never witnessed a U.S. Presidential candidate running such a negative campaign like Billary! The more we go through the campaign the more Americans see the real Billaries. They play dirty politics, imitate every move of candidate, no creativity, manipulators...They are the masters of old politics, which is creeping this country. They look so much alike third world politicians.
    They will do anything to win, and that is why almost all American politicians who have a reputation of being honest stand behind Obama. That is why the highly educated households and college graduates follow the path, because they are not easy to manipulate. Have Hillary's supporters thought about that?
    Change is coming...

    February 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Donna Edmonds, Phila., PA

    Stop the madness and talk about issues of substance.

    February 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. chipper

    Get real. We ( Americans) want to hear substance of the real issues, not who did what about meaningless items. These two are fighting for the highest office of the most free country in the world and all they can come up with is who stole what words. God help us if this is meaningful

    February 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. Michael from South Carolina

    It seems as if Obama has run out of his own rhetoric and started using someone else’s rhetoric. He’ll be speaking the words of Hillary before long!

    Hilary 08 and 12!!!!!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. wait a minute

    Can they talk about issues rather than this petty stuff?
    It's a waste of technology.

    February 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. Sly in Seattle

    This is THE dumbest story I have ever heard.. people just need something to dispute

    February 18, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. why o why

    so sad so sad for obama. first it was rezko, then it was copying Clinton's economic plan, now it is plagiarism. what next? i smell corruption.

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

    All of American politics is plagiarism! Look at the rhetoric of the Republican party! Little of it has changed in 40 years. Indeed, any reputable academic will tell you that originality is contingent on all of the works that go before it. All you can do is acknowledge your use of sources and material as meticulously as possible – something the current format of "one-up" politics does not allow.

    For either camp or candidate to focus on banal topics like this smells of desperate tactics aimed only at winning (and none more so than the Clinton campaign). If politicians care about citizens as much as they claim, they will make this campaign about the issues – not themselves. All of this is simply white noise to distract people from grappling with the problems themselves. But this is something that is hard to hear for people so bound to our current method of vetting candidates.

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

    CNN has to report the facts and Obama is clearly plagrizing. The spin from Obama campaign about the Senator Clinton using YES WE CAN is not considered plagirism.

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

    Obama is a lying huckster who does not have an original thought in his head.

    If he wins the nomination, I hope most Hillary supporters, like me, will either stay home or vote for McCain. Obama is a disaster!!

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

    Donot trust CNN, I can not post my message

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

    Hillary, I thought you were going to focus on "Solutions, not Speeches"?

    This type of nonsense is why your campaign has almost disintegrated over the last few weeks.

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

    Thankfully, after March 4 when Hillary fails to achieve a convincing victory over Obama in TX, she will be forced to concede for the good of the party.

    And then we can move on to the Rovian attacks from McCain's camp.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. An Agnostic Democrat

    Hillary has changed herself, her image and her message so many times, she doesn't know who she is ... and either do we. Wait a minute! We do know ... and that's why we aren't ushering her to the throne with her tinfoil crown askew.

    She's been stealing lines, policies and positions depending on her audience. She's a fine one to criticize anyone because no matter what she talks about, it's outta both sides of her mouth.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. Kim in Columbus

    man, what an airbag.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. AJ in SF

    Shame on both campaigns and on CNN. The MSM should just laugh when this is pointed out. What if CNN, et al, replied to HRC's camp whining abt Obama's "plaigarism" with something like: "Are you kidding me? You want me to report on THAT? Wouldn't you prefer we report on ISSUES?"

    This is just silly now. And also, anyone who thinks any of this has anything to do with who can and should run this country deserves whatever they get.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Craig Swinson

    Look it is simple, the messages are going to be the same almost anywhere int he world.

    Example:
    Gov. Patrick: Together We Can
    Obama: Yes We Can
    Jamaica Labour Party of 2007: Together, Yes We Can!
    Not a big deal, just saying.

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

    It doesn't matter who the next president will be......no matter who has been or who will be.......they were never their for the people, its all about power and money. Sad,very sad!!! I'm just happy that BUSH will no longer be the president.

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

    Really folks, they are not that far apart on significant policy issues. So it comes down to- do you want a family in office that thinks nothing of tearing down others to get ahead? That hides their records. That turn their heads to the side when subordinate women are getting "hit on" sexually at the workplace. Who scream foul when they put their 28-year old baby girl out on the stump, but no reporters are allowed to talk to her? Who treat Americans like we are victims...and how will we ever manage without them? No sir, as a lifelong Republican who was disappointed in GWB because he did not callupon his nation to act, I respect the fact that Sen. Obama has asked us to be a part of his change. He doesn't have the arrogance to say he has all the answers. He is asking us to be a part of the process – of the solutions. I like that. I like being respected like that. And I am crossing the aisle to vote for him specifically because as him as leader, we too, can be the Greatest Generation.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. Debra Austin, Texas

    Sorry Clintonians or should I say Rovians

    "Yes We Will"–check it out on old Billary's web site. The woman is not only uninspiring, she's done nothing in the Senate but name government buildings and post offices. Check out her sterling record. Oh yes, she's also married to a loud mouth.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. Ben from D,C,

    Fox News is just a little more childish than CNN is being with these stories. I might as well go to TMZ.com for news.

    February 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. dee rogers

    As a canadian I have truely been interested in watching the coverage of the presidential election. I find listening and watching the clintons and especially hillary is that they really will go to any crookeded end to win won't they? If she thinks Obama is stealing any words from her she should be flattered and she sure is stealing lots of his phrases isn't she. Her campaign is really a failure compared to his and I hope for america's future with a president like Obama.

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

    It's bad enough that all Sen. Obama has is talk...it would be nice if even that wasn't borrowed!

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

    Why do my comments never get posted?? Is CNN pro-Obama?

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

    This is not news.

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