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. Amy

    Obama has been sending out letters to his cult as though he is scared to death Hillary will get 1 penny more than he will..lol Obama is out for the bucks and his self. He is such a snob, always looking down his nose at people...lol I am for McCain because I have strong Rep. Relations, but I do like Hillary on the Dems side. If Obama does get it, he will never get past McCain, never! lol As for Hillary, I can see her giving McCain a good battle, but 2008 is McCain year!!

    February 22, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Bebble

    Big difference here people... It's one thing to use a line and another thing WHEN YOU USE THE ENTIRE SPEECH.

    Obama's camp needs to come back about the xerox comment. I can imagine what they'll come up with when McCain gets a hold of him.

    Obama lost a lot of credibility.

    February 22, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Eric

    Hillary = Hypocrite

    Just when I was starting to respect Hillary, she blew it last night.

    When she accused him of plagiarism, and the xerox comment, and saying your words should be your own...he should have asked her how her speech writer was doing these days.

    And that whole bit she said at the end should get her an Oscar, because that was one well scripted and acted performance.

    Obama has my vote.

    February 22, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Carl

    Colin, that is inaccurate. "Xerox" is a trademark whether you use it as a noun or verb, and it belongs to the Xerox Corporation. However, there's no infringement because the term is being used by Hillary in a way described as "fair use" (i.e. for commentary, not for profit, not to mislead or confuse consumers purchasing a product, etc.). The word is derived from a copying process called "xerography", which is obviously a generic term.

    It should be interesting to see what kind of advertising Xerox can pull out of this situation...stay tuned.

    February 22, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Michael Dunn

    If you're going to level accusations of plagerism then I think it behooves you to ensure that you're not doing the very thing that you're blasting the other candidate for. I agree with Senator Obama that this is absolutely as silly as can be, who cares with either of these, they are trying to make a point and in both cases they've used someone else's words to get that point across. I think Obama's campaign pointing it out is to say "hey look just how silly this accusation is; but here we have Hillary's best moment of the debate and it turns out that it's a complete lift of words from her husband and from Edwards after blasting Obama having "Xeroxed" change. This thing is almost over for Hillary; i think she's seeing the hand witting on the wall that even if she manages to pull off wins in Texas and Ohio, they're not going to be big enough to overcome the deficit she's acquired over this past month.

    February 22, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. TBArthur

    Don't Start a fire, you can't put out!

    The Hillary camp was the one who started this nonsense, so I don't think there is anything wrong with the other candidate's camp being just as critical of anything she says. Everyone knows that most politicians have speech writers and not everything they say are there own words.

    This does not excuse Barrack's decision not to mention that he was borrowing the words from his friend the governor. But, I think that was a lesson well learned. And in the scheme of things, I thought it was petty to bring it up. I could understand if it was in regards to policy, but words used to inspire an audience. Come On! It seems like a desperate attempt on Hillary's part to stop Barrack's momentum. Unfortunately, it turned out looking desperate to me.

    February 22, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Oscar

    Go Hillary!

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. omitch

    hmmmm.....spend months on the road with the same people.... listening to the same speeches, talking points, and the like spoken by the same people (family and opponents) over and over and over again...and there isn't a chance that any of us might start making statements that sound similar to one another??.... under those circumstances it seems impossible ti imagine that we wouldn't.....

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Peace

    Hillary, Hillary am no longer your fan . Not at all. Have you run out of options in order to bring Obamas momentum down?.

    I have seen you several times reading speeches. I hope someone is preparing them for you as you read them word after word. Why then acuse your rival while you are doing the same thing?. I am very much disappointed!

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. Demhypocracy

    Ohio Gov.: Clinton Is More Electable
    Political Players: Ted Strickland Defends His Candidate, Predicts Wins In Ohio, Texas And Pennsylvania

    Feb. 22, 2008

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. S.M

    Senator Clinton loves to point the finger at other people to take the flood light off of herself. Sounds to me as if Clinton has being doing a little plagerism of her own, if this is how she defines the meaning of this word.

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. helen

    People talk about experience why cant hillary use that to win 11 in a row

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. Veronica

    If the Obama-Promoting liberal media is going to play gotcha with Hillary Clinton, fine... just be consistent with the scrutiny. Barack Obama sounds just like Jim Jones with his out of the blue statements of "yes we can, yes we can". Jim Jones provided all the hope in the world for his cult and led them straight to Guyana... and we know the rest. I did see one story on CNN about Obama's rallies being "creepy". Yeah, we need to talk more about the creepy side of the cult of personality coming out of nowhere like a theif in the night all of a sudden inspiring people and making them faint. This whole Obamamania is too spellbinding and I swear I need to be deprogrammed if I listen to him too long. God help us all if John McCain doesn't defeat him.

    February 22, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. Carla

    Hey Joyce, im sure many are proud your big mouth doesnt live near them... Your old man prob has a few on the side because you make him sick,, lmao

    February 22, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Jaime, Plantation FL

    This – like that Obama speech fragment – is a non-story that deserves no media coverage. That Obama's team is pointing this out is fair in the sense that it was done to them, they can do the same back...

    But it isn't above the fray.

    We are sick of it.

    We are sick of CNN covering it.

    I – for one – am forgetting about the whole thing after this post and getting back to the real issues. The main issues separating Obama and Clinton now are the right to choose not to have health care as an adult or not (the only substantive difference in their plan), and their views in terms of foriegn policy. These are the things we should be talking about. Period.

    Not spinning and cheerleading.

    February 22, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. t

    I just cant stand that people are upset with barack over this. The only reason his campaign is doing this is to show that everyone uses words from other people. They know its stupid, and they are showing how stupid it is by the irony of this entire issue.

    February 22, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. Jesse M

    More proof here Obama is a hypocrite. At yesterdays debate he stated that it's "silly" to pay attention to those things and now his campaign is circulating the similarities in Hillary's comment with her husband and John Edwards.

    They probably are her words, Bill got many of his ideas from her.

    Lets get over this. Hillary lovers: support Hillary, Obama lovers: Support Obama, Democrats: UNITE!

    February 22, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. zoo

    It's odd to me that news "writers" keep insisting her closing comment is what made people rise to their feet. It's almost as if you've never seen a debate before, where, you know... people rise to their feet and applaud the debate because it's the end. That's what you do. Sigh.

    Beyond that, she's taken lines directly from Obama, so I never understood why her campaign felt the audacity to challenge him on borrowed rhetoric anyway.

    February 22, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Barb

    Are the voters really paying that much attention to who is borrowing language from who? It seems that the media is responsible for bringing this up over and over. I agree with JayinMN- "Lets just go back to the issues", I know JayinMN said it first.

    February 22, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. marie

    I am very sad that she will not win. very sad. and that is sad that so many people hate her so bad. plus the media does nothing but increase Obama chances of winning.

    February 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. Paul Naranjo

    Hillary you were great last night, and showed that you are the most capable person to both lead represent our nation at this crucial time in history.
    Woment, senior citizens and Latinos will continue to strongly support you and make you our front runner.
    The votes from Florida and Michigan must count, and their delegates must be at the convention. Otherwise the Democratic party would be disfranchising our political rights, the voice of thousands. It would be a shame for them to ignore thousands of members that went to the polls to support you.
    No matter what they say, you are the best candidate that we have for the general election, the hope for real change and not the hope of fairytales created by Obama.
    Hillary estamos contigo!
    Hillary, we are w you!

    February 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. Leo

    Enough already ... who cares. Let's just get on with the campaign!

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    February 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. California Voter

    This is so totally a non-issue that I'm responding only to say that it is.

    February 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Sugar Coated

    Which is OBama's camp? First it does not matter and now it does.
    I thought he was the one who wanted to move on.
    Besides I am sure many people have used close to he taking
    a hit comment.
    I know I have said myself at times my childhood was not good
    but I still feel blessed because it was better than others.

    February 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. JC

    Hipocritical Hilary ...was she reading from a script or does she just not think before the words come out of her mouth?

    February 22, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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