February 22nd, 2008
02:32 PM ET
14 years ago

Clinton faces claims of borrowed language

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/22/art.billcopy0222.gi.jpg caption="Since her campaign leveled allegations of copying at Sen. Obama, observers have pointed out similarity between some of Sen. Clinton's language and that of her husband."]
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton – whose campaign has spent the past several days pointing to instances of borrowed language in the speeches of rival Barack Obama – is being accused of lifting words from one very familiar politician: her own husband, former President Bill Clinton.

During Thursday night’s CNN Democratic debate, Clinton looked to highlight occasions when lines used by Obama have resembled those delivered by his friend and adviser, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Clinton’s closing answer, which brought the audience to its feet, highlighted her personal struggles and the difficulties facing ordinary Americans: "You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

Shortly after she delivered her closing remark, a reader of Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo Web site noted that the line seemed to bear a resemblance to one her husband was quoted as delivering during his 1992 campaign.

"The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time," her husband was quoted as saying in an article by Anna Quindlen in the New York Times in that November of that year.

Last night, Hillary Clinton also said: “You know, whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people. And that's what this election should be about.”

The Obama campaign immediately began circulating a similar comment delivered by former presidential candidate John Edwards. “What's not at stake are any of us. All of us are going to be just fine no matter what happens in this election. But what's at stake is whether America is going to be fine,” Edwards said during a December debate in Iowa.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (384 Responses)
  1. Enderlyn from Canada

    Go Figure!!!

    February 22, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Ron, TX

    Edwards actually said it MULTIPLE times...

    If Hillary's one nasty bitter attack line is about "change you can xerox" (trademark infringement, by the way), she better make sure her single one touching moment isn't ripped off from someone else.

    John Edwards Concession speech:
    "Today, I am suspending my campaign for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. But I want to say this to everyone: with Elizabeth, with my family, with my friends, with all of you and all of your support, this son of a mill worker is going to be just fine. Our job now is to make certain that America will be fine." -John Edwards

    December 13, 2007 Debate:
    "What's not at stake are any of us. All of us are going to be just fine no matter what happens in this election. But what's at stake is whether America is going to be fine."- John Edwards

    November 15, 2007 debate:
    "You know, before I came over here tonight, I was thinking, we're going to have this debate; when we finish, all of you are going to be on television saying, oh, who scored points, who won the debate. All of us are going to be fine. The question is, will America be fine?"
    -John Edwards

    October 30, 2007 debate:
    "As a matter of fact, it's not about any of us. The truth is, when this election is over, I'm going to be fine. Senator Clinton is going to be fine. Senator Obama's going to be fine. Will America be fine? "- John Edwards

    February 22, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. GBryant

    Obama campaign group is going to start crying plegarism or copy catting? Obama scolded Clinton last night at the debate for doing that. It seems that Obama's complaining does not get blown out of proportion. When Hillary complains the media makes it look like she is trying to make trouble for no reason.

    February 22, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. FloridaforHillary

    Hm... is it "silly season" in the Obama camp?

    February 22, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  5. Marilyn Bryan, Taylor, AR

    I have been hearing statements to that effect regarding one's state of mind/affairs for all my life, and I am now 81. To think that such a remark is limited to one politician is purely asinine.

    February 22, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Steve

    Seven years ago Peter Paul began whistleblowing to the government and alerting the media of numerous illegalities committed by Hillary and Bill Clinton in order to win Hillary’s first election to public office. The multi-million dollar donor to Hillary’s Senate campaign that caused Hillary’s finance director to be indicted and tried in May, 2005, for hiding his contributions, and whose complaint to the FEC resulted in a finding that Hillary’s campaign broke the law resulting in the only FEC fine imposed against Hillary’s campaign, will begin the discovery process leading to a trial in Los Angeles later this year of the Clintons and others for destroying Paul’s public company.

    February 22, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Independant

    What about all the times I`ve have heard MLK`s, " I have a dream when all men,........." This is just BS.............. Get over it........

    February 22, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. Patty Don't

    I know Medical Doctors have to take the Hippocratic Oath, but did Hillary Clinton take the Hypocritic Oath?

    February 22, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. DeeDee

    Come on Rebecca. You're not being fair. Clinton's statement is similar in idea, but its not verbatim like Obama used in his speeches.

    February 22, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. ny independent

    I thought the Obama campaign thought finger pointing about "stealing" lines is all part of the "silly season......"

    Oh I get it.... only if it's done to him. It's okay to finger point to your opponent. It's all the same. This higher ground campaign he's tried to run is coming in for a crash landing. Obama can't have it both ways. He's done this all through the campaign. He cries foul when attacks are flung at him, but he's just as guilty.

    I'd have more respect for him if he'd just admit that he's a politician, and he's in a political race, and this is after all, politics.

    And people accuse Hillary if being hyporictical?

    February 22, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. Kristin

    Is it just me or do these Presidential Elections and Debates bring you back to high school? These "claims of borrowed language" are ridiculous....just about as ridiculous as Paris Hilton trying to trademark "that's hot".

    February 22, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. Jake

    I'm an Obama supporter but that is really petty for the Obama campaign to do that. Her statement was a reactionary one, she did not know the question that was going to be asked, it was not a speech. Come on guys move on!

    February 22, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Gene in Texas

    Hillary is a hypocrisy. Politics as usual in Washington–you don't mean what you say. Obviously, you will lose Texas for sure.

    February 22, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Closely Watching

    Oh really? After all, they are just words, but does the famous phrase about the pot and the kettle come to mind here?

    Obama '08

    February 22, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Naeem

    I dont think she got standing ovation. I believe it was because alot of the people thought it was the final question and they were giving them both a standing ovation. I recall seeing Barack ask if it was over and was trying to get up to start shaking hands. That applause was for both of them.

    February 22, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. RC from VA

    First, using a quote from one's spouse is harly comparable to lifting one from a third person and getting his permission AFTER THE FACT.

    Second, how disingenuous is the OBAMA campaign in raising the issue/practice after publically calling it out as SILLY SEASON in a national debate. Talk about saying anything to get elected. WORDS WORDS WORDS but no substance!

    Hillary/ Edwards 08

    February 22, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. Jones

    I don't know why Obama's communication director can't bring out Hillary's numerous borrowed lines in this campaign.....there is several borrowed lines Hillary has used without permission or attribution to the original owner. Hillary and her campaigners 're hypocrisy.

    February 22, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Maysa4Obama

    Ahhhh Hillary....

    What have you to say now? It was low enough to keep brining it up in the first place, but to go ahead and do the same thing?

    Like the analysts have been saying, it is done all the time and clearly you are doing it yourself.

    It really is too bad that Hillary decided to go negative, she was only able to highlight how presidential and honorable Barack Obama appeared taking the high road.

    Bow out gracefully Hillary, unite the party and let's win this thing in November!

    Obama '08

    February 22, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Obama all the way....

    Well isn't she the pot calling the kettle black....


    February 22, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. Alanis

    Isn't it ironic. A little toooooo ironic..

    February 22, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. Mike

    Hmmm...kinda takes the air out of the whole conversation, huh? Like Obama said, it's all "silly season" in the eyes of most of us voters anyway...especially Independents like me.

    February 22, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Anarchy1

    LOL...Solutions you can Xerox....

    February 22, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. C Hall in Seattle

    I think this just goes to show that borrowing or modifying words from other people isn't a big deal. Everyone does it – how many times have you found yourself using a phrase or saying that your friends do? Or repeating something that you heard somewhere else?

    It was a non-issue with Obama and I think it's a non-issue with her. I certainly hope everyone can move on and focus on the issues.

    February 22, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. Derrick

    hook or crook to win the election. Wonder what she says to this

    February 22, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. murf

    These comments coupled with the fact that she's been talking with John Edwards in recent weeks suggests that he is going to endorse her. Otherwise, why would she lift whole sections of his prior speech? She must have had his permission. To use his language without his permission would be considered plagerism.

    February 22, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
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