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. Harvey

    Iowian fired up...you better have sme ohio people fired up not a cacus that has been over for months

    poor Obama She did it to boo hoo boo hoo

    February 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Abelle

    Excuse me! I thought "Fired up and ready to go" was just one of those little sayings many people say at different times. It surely wasn't created by Obama. I've been hearing that saying long before we ever heard of Obama!

    February 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Zach

    Senator Biden had to quit the race for less. Somebody hold Obama accountable!!!!

    February 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. Ed K.

    Wolf, Why have we not heard from CNN regarding the Larry Sinclair allegations against Obama. I know this is a sleaze charge but what if it 's true? If this had come out against Bill Clinton the Media would have a field day. True or false most people would like to know.

    February 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Sridhar Prasad, CA

    It does not matter who copies whose words, people are smart enough to understand and make the choices accordingly – Let's not fight this tit for tat war.

    February 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Cyrille

    Come on people,

    America deserves better than this!!! She is negative,will be negative and will try everything to win this nomination as if the Presidency of the United States was her legacy.

    Billary stop your negative ads campaign and the misrepresentation of the facts about Obama.

    Like Ghandi, first they ignore you,then they ridicule you,then they fight you,then you win,,

    Vote Obama,

    Women for Obama

    February 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. HP Boston

    Obama never has anything original to say, never! He invokes any OLD ray of of OLD hope he can find. He has no ideas, no plans, no solutions! Smoke and mirrors and lets all go to church and sing! He isn't even fit to have a beer with, or shoot baskets with, or listen to his empty, (copied) words!

    February 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Toyin Isijola, Marietta, GA

    Hahahahah, you guys are sooooooooo funny. Who cares what they say anyways. Obama should have known better, the Clintons are ready to prey on any single mistake he makes, just ask the Republicans. Now Democrats are starting to know why Republicans hate the Clintons so much. First, Obama is anti-abortion, then he supported the war, now he plagiarises? hahahahaha..... just get rid of the clintons before they destroy the Democratic party. They gave the congress away, gave our jobs away (NAFTA), mess around with all the interns, I guess bill is not done yet.

    February 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. katherine

    So does Obama have an intellectual patent of some sorts on the cliches of "fired up" and "ready to go"? Since when did plagiarism include the use of such common phrases in the vernacular?

    February 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. Carlos, Los Angeles

    "Yes We Can" is not original to the Obama campaign either. "Yes We Can" or "Si Se Puede" was the rally cry of Cesar Chavez and thousands of UFW workers in the filelds of California during the 1960"s. For the Obama campaign to use that slogan, they should at least give credit where credit is due. The same should be for the Patrick speach.

    February 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. kcfromtexas

    Obama's great HOPE was that no one would notice his borrowed speeches.

    February 18, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. O'Connor James

    I'm OBAMA REPUBLICAN and this is very absurd for the CLINTONS to talk about it as an issue. YEs we CAN was brought by OBAMA and READY to go is OBAMA as well as fired up to go is OBAMA. This is not Plagiarization at all. It is used by everybody and even McCain says CHANGE on his campaign. HILLARY YOU ARE JUST TOO MUCH

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

    And in the meantime, Huckabee goes bowling...

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

    There is nothing wrong with words, but empty words. If your words say you are against lobbyists, but you actually get money from them. That is wrong.

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

    Here's a phrase they BOTH can use: Git R Done! 🙂

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

    Hillary Clinton stealing Obama's key phrases is much, much worse because she is trying to take away his signature lines whereas Obama riffing on Patrick doesn't strike a person as stealing so much as riffing off of a trusted friend with permission.

    Hillary is truly a criminal and this will all come out if the is the nominee.

    February 18, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. Wilders conscience

    So Obama says that I am allowed to cheat or murder or take bribe because you do the same?

    Is this same old politics? Is Obama trying to imply that he is a crook if Clinton is a crook?

    Man, this is sad. Kool air drinkers wont see thru the facade of this. America is about to be ruined by Obama!!

    February 18, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. What the heck?

    Talk about dirty politics. Obama fires off a youtube video as Wolfson is on his call. Like that wasn't a calculated plan to divert attention to Obama and his cry baby antics. Obama you still need time to mature. You are in no way ready to be president.

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

    this is just making me dislike the democratic party. Seriously.... thank god mccain is a moderate because if the democratic party keeps this up I will not be voting democrat!

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

    Honestly, who cares what was borrowed from who? Tell me something about the economy, foreign policy, health care...

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

    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 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. Elizabeth in Republican territory

    Careful. If we continue along this ridiculous pathway, we may be sitting on the sidelines watching good 'ol McCain carry the ball over the goal line into another 4 years of Bush/Cheney policies. "Borrowing rhetoric" doesn't seem to have the same impact as borrowing policies from the current motely crew in office. Let's focus on what's important.

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

    Why does everyone blame the Clinton campaign for EVERYTHING? Obama copied Patrick's speech, people on youtube realized it and sent around a video and it made news.

    If Obama ever became President, the headlines for all four years would just be "NOT HIS FAULT". He's human, he screwed up, and this isn't the first time. Deal with it.

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

    Regardless of who said what – I don't understand how the American people can even begin to imagine Hillary as President – are we not tired of the Bush's and Clinton's running our country????? It is time for a change – meaning – no more Bush's – no more Clinton's. This is America – unless.....we want to go Hillary for the next 8 – maybe Jeb the next 8 – then the next generation of Clinton's and Bush's...hmmmm – anybody else seeing a pattern here> Vote for Obama or McCain.

    February 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Louisiana Loves Hillary!!

    I am MORE concerned about his pledge to his "church". In the 10 point pledge from his churches website) #4 is: a NON-NEGOTIABLE commitment to Africa. Is he going to have some conflict when governing over the Unuted States? This church has a history of questionable moments!!
    Obama is wrong for our country!!!

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