The Clinton campaign just held a media conference call with communications director Howard Wolfson and Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern in which they blasted Obama for borrowing liberally from a speech given by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
Wolfson also noted Obama’s waffling on his pledge to use public financing in the general election, and argued that given his thin resume, Obama’s candidacy is based on his rhetoric and promises, which these incidents raise serious questions about.
“If your asking an electorate to judge you by your promises and you break them, by your rhetoric and you lift it, than there is a fundamental problem with your candidacy,” Wolfson said.
McGovern declared that, “If you use somebody else’s words, or somebody else’s ideas, you should give credit to them.” He said when he first heard Patrick’s speech, he found it inspiring, but when he heard that Obama had lifted his words, he found it “less inspiring and more calculating.” He also suggested that the incident raises questions about the origins of Obama’s other speeches.
Tying it to the Clinton campaign’s criticism that Obama had stolen her economic plan, McGovern said that we need a president who has original ideas, “not just somebody who can copy somebody’s homework.” McGovern also said that electing a president “shouldn’t be like ‘American Idol'” and that “this is more than about show business.”
Wolfson was asked to respond to the fact that Patrick himself, who is a friend and endorser of Obama, gave permission to Obama to use his words without attribution.
But that didn’t change anything, Wolfson responded, because there are two victims in a case of plagiarism, the writer whose work is being taken, and the reader who assumes those are the words of the author. “The public has an expectation that the words are your own,” Wolfson said, which is especially true with Obama, whose entire candidacy is based on the “power of his rhetoric.”
Asked whether the Clinton campaign was confident that there weren’t examples of Clinton lifting rhetoric from other politicians, Wolfson said he’s sure the media and the Obama campaign would be looking into it, but it’s different with Clinton because she is running a substantive campaign.
“She’s not running on the strength of her rhetoric, she’s not running to be orator in chief,” he said.
Here is video of Patrick and Obama side by side, which leaves no doubt where Obama found his inspiration.