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. bryen

    Borrowing from her husband... In other words... Husbands and Wives sharing the same ideals. NON-STORY HERE! Move along folks!

    February 22, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. jo

    so what? Obama can copy his word to word from others and no comments on that. As long as Obama surge depends on his words not action and those words are borrowed from someone else tells you so much about Obama.
    "Give me a break!" When did this become some one's words?

    February 22, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. Jeff

    Live by the sword, die by the sword....

    February 22, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Max

    All politicians do this. Anyone who is not biased knows what is going on and will vote appropriately. Nothing to see here... lets move on.

    February 22, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. WP

    Oh come on CNN! Not enough happening in Darfur, Middle East, Kosovo, your own backyard??? "Silly season" continues.

    February 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. James

    Finally the true hipocrisy and silliness exposed. Shes been borrowing Obama's line too!!! ANd he never complained.

    February 22, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. J. Ryan

    Atleast she has finally proven that she is ONLY a Xeroxed copy of her husband.

    February 22, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. Bob

    You have GOT to be kidding me! There is NO comparison what-so-ever to Obama's speech, as a matter of fact, I said the same words Hillary used last night, to my family when my mother died.....almost verbatim. That darn John Edwards must have lifted them from me!! Give me a break. It is true that these are historic times; a woman and a black man are running for president. It is time for a black man or a woman for president, the problem is Mr. Obama is not the right black man, but Mrs. Clinton is certainly the right woman. Wake UP Fellow Democrats!! Mrs. Clinton's experience trumps Mr. Obama's charisma. The Republicans will paint America with his lack of experience. I will support him if he is the nominee, however, really think about it.....3 years in the Senate......that's it.

    February 22, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Henry, CT

    Hopeless Hillary without an original thought. She's only thinking about her reputation, or what's left of it, and her 2012 run for the presidency. She'll have four years to clean up the mess she and Bill made of this campaign.


    February 22, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Tim

    WOW, are we lowering our standards as a country! We are talking about electing the leader of the FREE WORLD! Does anyone get that? Anyone? I listen to the pundits say that Obama is getting "more comfortable" and "more sure of himself" and "holding his own" ... ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Since when was "LESS THAN" okay for America? What on earth is going on here? He's not running for head of the GLEE CLUB, he's running for President! This is not an audition for "The Not Ready for Prime-Time Players" ... this is a critical election that will determine our safety, prosperity, efficacy, and sanctity as a nation.

    February 22, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Christopher in Anaheim, CA


    Hillary did nothing of the sort. I guess nobody should speak publicly about anything that anyone else has ever spoken of... This charge is BASELESS.

    Barack Obama essentially copied exact words from someone else. Hillary, at worst, expanded on a thought, an expression, that's been used by John Edwards, Bill Clinton, and likely many others of less fame.

    Obama should be ASHAMED to draw such a comparison or make such an attack. He plaigarised – word for word. She didn't even come close. READ, PEOPLE.

    February 22, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. Refg

    Unless Obama gets caught in one of Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" shows, this thing is over.

    Hillary, please concede and bow in the presence of greatness.

    Thank you, thank you very much!

    February 22, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. enomisa

    I think these were just regular spontaneous heartfelt words being used in a normal context.
    There is a BIG difference. Obama's words were delivered as original gifted Oratory by a candidate who is MAKING the point that words count. They were made deliberately as part of a speech and they were recycled.
    But the media should focus on real issues. It wasn't a story before and it is even less of a story now. The media is repeating itself.

    February 22, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. think

    who cares? this wasn't scripted, she was answering a question and it was a terrific answer. besides, her entire campaign is NOT based on words and rhetoric. nice try camp obama.

    February 22, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. MR CEE

    I though that the Obama folks were above all this!

    February 22, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Logic Should WIN Out, California

    Clinton was truly being silly with the plagiarism charge... but it is just as silly to claim the same of Clinton's comments now. In political speak you are going to run into similar themes, and not every statement has a copyright attached to a specific politician.

    Her comments are similar because she is in a similar situation and this is the best way to respond to slipping numbers and an eye towards losing.

    I will give you that it is hypocritical of her, but this should be a non-story... and it probably would have been had she not started the silliness in the first place.

    Obama '08

    February 22, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. LENA

    ...Senator Obama is not launching attacks against Senator Clinton. I admire him for it.

    Thanks to CNN for bringing this to our attention though.

    February 22, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. J. Stew

    This is just getting silly.

    February 22, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. SK

    These accusations of borrowed rhetoric on both sides need to to stop because they aren't worth the websites they're written on. Lets get back to the issues and I would request for the media to stop covering this non-newsworthy crap.

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Chills

    where are the Clinton supporters....hiding in shame?

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Tevel

    Will people PLEASE stop talking about this very silly issue. Neither candidate deserves to be held to these inane standards of authenticity.

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Jeff

    Paul Begala is the writer of the last line used by Hillary Clinton. He wrote it for Bill Clinton when he was his speech writer.

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Chauncey Toler

    This shows how someone can run there mouth about someone else and be automatically put right back down. What goes around comes around. Again this shows that negative attacks will always be answered with cause and effect. I have to applaud Obama for not answering back in a negative way. This shows judgement on Obama's side. Hillary messed up big time in my eyes and she needs to reflect on it. This race will be a close one.

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Joe

    When will Hillary learn that you always reap what you sow....?

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. John, Las Vegas, NV

    Oops, Hillary got caught. Emotion you can Xerox

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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