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. Corey, Maryland

    Tisk Tisk Hillary!!! You are just making me hate you even more and more!!

    Obama Richardson 08!!!!

    February 22, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. rbrannan

    Isn't it a bit hypocritical that in the debate Obama condemns Hillary's campaign for playing 'silly politics' by making an issue of his using another person's words without crediting that person, and how instead we should be focused on issues like healthcare, economy, etc–but then the first words that comes out of the Obama camp after the debate is that Hillary used other's words in the debate. Looks like Obama is just words afterall and doesn't act on what he preaches. Also, why is it that Obama makes constant subtle, negative jabs/attacks at Clinton and no one highlights his negative air -of -superiority–like his Halburton jab, his jab that when she used to be 20 points up in the polls, his jab about his endorsements. Issues!

    February 22, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. K

    If the people are willing to forgive Obama for borrowing his campaign co-chairman's exact words, I'm sure they will allow Hillary to repeat a thought from her own husband that was quite likely hers to begin with.

    February 22, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Vanessa

    Hillary The Hypocrite... I'm trying to make a video of this a sending it out.

    February 22, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. AA

    This just shows that this whole plagerism accusation is extremely petty. She has been doing the same thing. Is there a difference where the words come from? I dont think so. Plagerism is plagerism....this is such a non issue...lets move on please!

    February 22, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Mr. Los Angeles

    Both Clinton and Obama shouldn't push this much further. It's dead now that she "xeroxed" from a non-campaign advisor.

    this is a non-issue, let's continue on!

    February 22, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Patrick, Indianapolis

    Clinton feels pretty stupid regarding her plagiarism charge now doesn't she? She lifted her final comment directly from John Edwards. What a hypocrit!

    February 22, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. Randy - Denver

    Don't you just hate it when your spin comes back at you?

    I do not think anyone will protest her stealing former president Clinton's line, since they are both running this time anyway, but the plagerism of Mr. Edwards, just bad form.

    February 22, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. Gregory

    This just shows the hypocrisy of the Clinton campaign. She accuses Barack of plagarism, while at the same time she uses his lines. All politicians have speech writers for the most part, so how can you in good conscience call someone on plagarism when everyone is essentially using their speech writers words. Also, those weren't Deval's words either, they were Martin Luther King's words, JFK's words, and RFK's words only two phrases were shared....."just words and just speeches" But for her to come right back and do the same thing shows her level of gall.

    Also, how do you accuse someone's plan of leaving 15 million people uninsured when everyone that wants the plan can have it. If those 15 million people want coverage they can get it, it's just not mandated. I for one don't want universal health care..... just give me a tax credit or rebate for a percentage of my premiums paid. At any rate, we will never have a universal health care plan like Clinton has been working on for the last 15 years....... Republicans and conservatives will never go for it. Just make the premiums affordable and make the companies cover the claims of the insureds.

    Lastly, how could anyone trust Hillary to run the country when she can't run a campaign!! Her campaign was short sighted in nature, underestimated her opponent, overestimated her talent, and is operating in the deficit. Sounds more like George Bush than someone that's ready from day one. I don't think this can be overlooked, and it should be reported on more widely by the papers to bring an end to this hopeless campaign.

    Barack '08

    February 22, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Cheryl

    I thought it was just me, I sensed she was acting. Hillary is always calculated. Calculate what to do/when to play on American Emotions, and stoop so low to use injured soldiers. The soldiers would not be in their condition if it were not for her voting FOR the war. Now she plagarizes...... Lets hear her excuse..Hillary supporters???

    February 22, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. Matt in Odessa

    I guess Obama isn't above the silliness. Even though it looks bleak for Clinton, I have now made up my mind and I am putting my vote behind her. Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth. This "fine" statement is a common phrase. The other item that was swayed me was her closing statement last night. I stood and clapped in my own living room. My wife thinks I am crazy, but she is happy I am voting for her now.

    February 22, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Stavy

    Not surprised! Hillary is a hypocrite, she gives women a bad name. I find that she shouts instead of talk and is too petty. She is only running on her husband's name, there must be better women candidates.

    February 22, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Tammy

    This is what happens when the pot calls the kettle black. Every intelligent person knows, you make sure your own backyard is clean before you go commenting on the neighbors. The real question here is, are these the only instances she's lifted or borrowed the words of others?.....

    February 22, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. b.

    Those are not the exact same quotes. This story is flat out stupid and horrible journalism.

    If this is the case then any word ever spoken has been spoken by someone else, therefore, life would be plagiarism. Copying written words is wrong, a similarity would be a coincidence...

    Give me a break, this guy really has a hard time when he is at fault, they just scramble to get the finger re-pointed...

    And half the Dem's want this guy to have the most important job on Earth? Never had his own business, never done a thing for his own state, never done a thing for you and I and has held a public office for two years... Wow, seems like a great idea.

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Michel

    Ha Ha Ha. I am not surprised. I bet they all do it. Who cares?

    Boy, Mitt Romney should have hung on because I expect more information about McCain and his lobbyists, including the two who run his campaign.

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. south oval

    Hillary Clinton is a liar and a hypocrite.

    Nobody seemed to care about her desperate attacks anyway- she still got creamed in Wisconsin.

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. Jim, American in Paris

    If people don't want to accept the truth that Obama and his campaign are copying other politicians speeches than they're ready to believe anything he tells them.

    Hillary did us all a favor, and especially for those who support Obama,
    by bringing this important information to light. His supporters want to hear his own words and not listen to him copy others.

    This is a serious problem for him and for those who vote for him. They know now that even though he may excite them they can't be sure it's him who's talking to them! Neither can the rest of the country!

    The comparisons in the above article don't mean anything. 1992, so long ago by someone we've never heard of. And John Edwards remarks don't look like Hillary's! So tit for tat from the Obama campaign! Not impressed!

    The Obama "I've got a dream" taken from his friend is an obvious copy from a recent, 2006, speech and one of his friends. In any case we've all heard the Martin Luther King citation over and over for years and from many people and we all know those words belong to MLK and know one else!

    So who's trying to imitate whom?

    Isn't it important to be one's self and to be honest when we ask Americans to vote for us to be their President?

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Jeff

    I don't really see any similarities in Clinton and Edward's speeches. This just shows you once again that every time Clinton points out Obama's weaknesses, it just backfires unreasonably. Is Obama really that "golden boy" that no one can even touch? Its getting more and more ridiculous.

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Christopher

    It doesn't shock me. Remember she was using Obama's line "Fired Up And Ready To Go" and then she had the nerve to say he was using someone elses lines.

    No Integrity.

    She needs to go back to New Hampshire and try and find the real Hillary Clinton if that is even possible.

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Patty

    Same sentiment – yes....Same words – no
    Deval Patrick's words identical to Obama's words – yes
    Does the Obama camp's promise of change now signify that is low enough to stoop to the same thing it accuses others of doing? If they think it was much ado about nothing they are certainly trying to make much ado when they can claim it against others. But then this is similar to crying racism against the Clintons when their comments were not racist.

    February 22, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Steven

    Never point an accusing finger when your are guilty yourself! Anyway what a weak arguement! If that was the best she had, she is in huge trouble!

    February 22, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Terri

    Thanks for being fair and pointing this out. It is also my understanding that she lifted a few words from John Edwards, too.

    February 22, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. J. in PA

    Wow! This is such a dumb issue, but she made the bed, so let her lie in it. I hope this is the last we talk about this. I find it funny that the Clinton supporters cry out for "substance" from Obama, but they choose to harp on this completely un-substantial issue. Hypocritical, no?

    February 22, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Mark C. Eades

    All politicians borrow language, and it was silly of the Clinton campaign to make an issue of it in the first place.

    February 22, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. Rich

    Crit. Hippo Crit.

    February 22, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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