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. Melissa Austin, Texas

    With the Obama camp circulated this information about Clinton borrowing from Edwards, then doesn't that make him just as bad as Clinton.

    Just because someone else does something you don't like, if you start acting like them, then you are no better than they are.

    Obama is not the person people think he is.

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. LENA

    Senator Obama's campaign only circulated only John Edwards' statement.

    He did not launch attacks against Senator Clinton.

    He did not accuse her of plagiarism.

    He didn't leek it to the media. Gloria Borger mentioned it first, last night.

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. jw, canadian,ok

    C'mon CNN – how about some real news?

    February 22, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Franky

    I say they should just settle it in a duel. Hey, that's how business was done back in the day..............way back, LOL!!!

    February 22, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Hillary 4 president

    At least Hillary got the line from her husband and not from other people... Hillary is capable, knowledgeable and she will be a good president because through her experienced she will now know what to do and how to fix the american problem... Obama should run after Hillary is retired from president.. .. i like Obama to be the president after Hillary..

    February 22, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Tim, DC

    I think this highlights exactly how stupid this whole borrowed words story is. So far everything has been either:
    1. Very general things, like Clinton's comments about the hits she has taken (words that could be spoken by any politician).
    2. Words that are exchanged among a campaign that has more than one person who has made or makes public remarks (Obama's comments, Clinton's borrowing from Bill).

    Plagiarism is a serious thing, but so far we haven't seen any thing close to it by either candidate.

    February 22, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. bernard

    hello..the awakening begins...peace

    February 22, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Patricia Matthews

    We need to quit nick-picking every single comment made in the debates, etc. Both candidates are excellent. I believe both candidates mean well in their comments back and forth. Whoever gets the nomination, we should be proud of both of them and stand behind them.

    February 22, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Joe

    "JUST WORDS??"

    February 22, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. Terry Cagle

    In today's U.K. Telegraph, a reporter pointed out the similarity between her words last evening and those of John Edwards a few weeks ago. I quote: "'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,' Mr Edwards said in December."

    February 22, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Lyra Talarico

    Obama was right when he called the matter of language silliness. It does not matter where the words came from the point is can you believe in the words that are be delivering to you? Can you believe in the hope it inspires? Can you believe in the person behind the words? Obama never claimed he wasn't using words, phases or thoughts others onced used to express a point. So it seems that Obama hasn't done anything wrong. It can only be wrong if he can't live up to the words. And that is yet to be seen. So give it a rest! There is alot more to be concerened with than what words one uses to make a point.


    February 22, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Richard

    I said thought this when Obama was accused of copying and I will say it again with Clinton. There is little original thought out there. People are inspired by what other people have said and tend to say similar things. THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL. LOOK AT ISSUES and not get distracted by this silly stuff.

    February 22, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. vivian

    Hillary, what's good for the goose, is good for the gander! I guess Hillary thinks it's ok for her to use and resuse others comments and speeches. She has repeatedly said things that Obama has been saying in this campaign. She now has borrowed words from Bill and John Edwards. Oh well, what else is new. I love that she is denying that she sounded as though she was facing her biggest fear yestreday, that she was losing this race and that her campaign pretty much was insufficient. It did not stand against the amazing campaign and organization of Obama. He can run a campaign, he can reach people and he can bring people together. That is a quality we cannot afford not to have this election in our leader. We have been distanced so much from the rest of the world in teh past few years. We need to elect a president that is articulate, intelligent and able to work with others at a tim when we are being dissed around the world. I htink Hillary will rty hard to take back what she seemed to be portraying yesterday, but remember, we cannot undo what has been done! I think it's a good idea to exit with grace. If I were her, I would just leave while things are calm. She wil never make it!

    February 22, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. raf

    GBryant and FloridaforHillary:

    Let me get this straight. It's perfectly legitimate for Hillary to whine about false plagiarism, but then when Obama counters that she's done the same thing, suddenly he's the petty one?

    I'm sorry, but Hillary brought this stuff up in the first place - like she always does. If it backfires and blows up in her face, it's her fault, not Obama's. When someone complains of a certain behavior and then does it themself *in the same debate*, then it deserves scrutiny and criticism.

    February 22, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Courtney

    Why am I not suprised?!

    February 22, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Ted G

    Mrs Clinton this is what happens when you forget to look in the mirror.
    In your efforts to tear down and destroy this man, you are futher dividing this party.

    We dont care about it, all of you get lines from on another. But as a tax paying American citizen it is not going to solve the multitude of issues that we are facing this country.

    February 22, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. HP Boston

    Well it would be a wonderful thing if we could have a

    CLINTON/ EDWARDS ticket!

    The thought of the empty rhetoric of an


    is ludicrous, stupid and dangerous.
    The guys are fairytale pushers who have no idea how to lead or solve the vast problems facing America. The worst war in the world and the worst administration does not get done with inexperienced hacks.

    February 22, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Texan Man

    My MY have the tables turned. Don't accuse Obama, because he's not the one. Get your sources straight.

    February 22, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Josh

    See, this is why Hillary messed up when she made that comment. People borrow from each other all of the time. I appreciate the fair journalism that brought this story to light.

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Geri

    Can CNN never find fault or say something degrading about Obama. He gets away with an awful lot and so does his wife. Lets be fair!

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. JJ in NY

    You know.....this just goes to show everyone, you know, that hillary talks out of both sides of her mouth, you know.... always has, and always will.... you know ?

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Brad M

    I watched the debate and remembered that line immediately. There was a documentary entitled "The Man from Hope" that Linda Bloodworth Thomason, who created Designing Women and Evening Shade, directed. It has a soundbite of him delivering it at the end. Regardless, her use of his words and Obamas' use of Deval's are beyond non-issues.

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. enomisa

    I have submitted basically the same post 5 times now. My posts are never posted, so I'm put in the position of paraphrasing and repeating and plagerizing my own self.
    I'm more concerned with the spirit of what was said and not the letter of the words. Yes you may all recognize that from the bible.
    Apparently people have been making the same mistakes for thousands of years- intentionally missing the point, by criticizing each word.
    You all know what was being expressed and know that it was for real.

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. heather

    The thing that changed my mind on Hillary is the hypocrisy – first she says she won't campaign in Michigan or Florida, now she wants those delegates (because she won – being the only candidate on the ballot helps!) and then she says Obama plagarized, but then she does too. Typical politician – just like her husband – you can't keep those Clintons from getting what they want! That's why I never cared about politics before. But I was proud to vote for Obama in California and will be proud to vote for him in the general election, and will be proud to travel to Washington and see his inauguration.

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Kelly, New York

    Thank you for publishing this on your network. I would like to see it get the same coverage that you gave the original charge facing Obama.

    February 22, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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