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Elizabeth Edwards: Obama Is a Copycat

Aspiring first lady Elizabeth Edwards is accusing Sen. Barack Obama of lifting her husband's best lines, in particular, the phrase "audacity of hope."

In an interview with the Progressive magazine, Edwards says:

"You listen to the language of what people say, particularly Obama, who seems to be using a lot of John's 2004 language, which is maybe not surprising since one of his speechwriters was one of our speechwriters, his media guy was our media guy. These people know John's mantra as well as anybody could know it. They've moved from 'hope is on the way' to 'the audacity of hope.' I'm constantly hearing things in a familiar tone."

Audacity of hope ... It does have a nice ring. Does Edwards have the trademark on it to prove Obama is ripping him off?

Not if you ask the Obama camp, which had no formal response to Mrs. Edwards's comment but pointed out Obama's history with the phrase.

The junior senator from Illinois referenced "audacity of hope" in his 1995 memoir "Dreams From My Father." The line, they said, was taken from a sermon preached by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright titled "The Audacity to Hope."

Furthermore, as recounted in a Christian Science Monitor article last month, "Wright impressed Obama, and by 1988 the younger man found himself in the pews, listening to parishioners clap and cry out as Wright spoke of 'the audacity of hope."

As the Chicago Tribune wrote in January, Obama based his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention on Wright's "Audacity to Hope" sermon.

One Democratic operative out there on the campaign trail, who requested and was granted anonymity, insisted, "There's definitely a trend of Edwards leading and Obama following -- both rhetorically and on the substance."

Among the examples the Democrat cited was the much talked about moment at the Yearly Kos convention on August 4 when Edwards called on all the candidates in the Democratic field to "not take a dime" from lobbyists. That prompted Sen. Hillary Rodham to say "a lot" of lobbyists represent "real people."

Edwards, moments later, asked for a show of hands from audience members who have a Washington lobbyist working for them. As you might imagine, only a tiny smattering of hands went up.

So how does Obama play into this? The very next day Obama asked an audience in Nevada, "How many people here have a federal lobbyist?"

Asked whether John Edwards shares his wife's sentiment that Obama is a copycat, Edwards campaign spokesman Eric Schultz offered, "We've clearly been leading on the issues, and others are following. You've see that on health care, on energy, on closing unfair tax loopholes, and using funding authority to get our troops home from Iraq. John Edwards is shaping the Democratic agenda by proposing bold solutions and being honest about how to achieve them."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  August 14, 2007; 6:11 PM ET
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Sounds a little desperate....maybe if Edwards had used "audacity of hope" instead of "hope is on the way" he would be vp now.
(yet another bad decision :)

Posted by: Linnie | August 14, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Edwards' "Hope is on the Way" did not catch on or capture many votes for the Karry-Edwards ticket in 2004. In fact, it sounded a bit corny, especially when Edwards' recited the phrase at the DNC in 2004. I doubt if Obama "copied" his phrase from Edwards.

Posted by: Janet | August 14, 2007 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed that both Edwards do a lot of snide complaining about other candidates, which has had the effect of substantiallly diluting their message. They need to stick to what their concrete goals are for John Edwards' presidency and skip this high school stuff.

Posted by: Proteusdecision | August 14, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse


When asked by Barbara Walters on the night of September 11, 2001 if the 9/11 attacks were carried out by forces within the U.S., 2008 presidential candidate and then senate intelligence committee member John Edwards becomes evasive and refuses to answer the question, after having spoken to CIA director George Tenet earlier that day.

Posted by: A.C. | August 14, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Was Edwards copycatting Clinton? After all, he was all about "a place call Hope". Give me a break, edwards is starting to become comical.

Posted by: vahawk | August 14, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

If Elizabeth Edwards wants to accuse a candidate need only look to her husband. His "signature" phrase 'hope is on the way' is clearly a rip-off of a famous gospel song, "help is on the way'.

Posted by: Dee of VA | August 14, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

John Edwards is right on. He is the only candidate with the courage to stand up to the wealthy establishment in this country and tell the truth: that most Americans are poor, undereducated, and need a hand up with intelligent government assistance and not wasteful military expenditures on fraudulent occupations.

Posted by: notaboomer | August 15, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Edwards is the wealthy establishment! His past and his experiences do not show he is all about poverty.

Posted by: notaboomer | August 15, 2007 1:28 AM | Report abuse

It totally sounds desperate.
The change of a word "TO" to "OF". I dont get it!

Actually one thing I have taken notice of is this fringe that seems to have Barack Obama pegged as this new delinquent school kid who cheats on his essays. All the remarks i have heard about Obama are seemingly headed down this path of demeaning his obvious adult age and intelligence. The questions and remarks and accusations are almost dumbifying.

The biggest insult to the people of Nation and to Obama is the question of Barack Obama's race? asking is he black enough?

Well in a country where "so called" blacks are a minority and race seems to be the benchmark the media seems to impress among people, it seems to the question should really be put " is he white enough".

But the "is he white enough" question would lead back to the real source of the problem.

So I will be the first to ask everyone I can. Is Barack Obama white enough?
Another question.
This one is equally stupid but may bring results. Is Bill Richardson White enough?

I mean if the rest of the country has to put up with the question " Is Barack Obama black enough?" then they must equally be expected to answer my questions.

So let me know!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2007 4:48 AM | Report abuse

Edwards is the leader, Obama the follower, and Hillary the follower's follower. If Democrats want a leader they'll vote for Edwards.

Posted by: AJ | August 15, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Wah wah wah, Elizabeth Edwards is getting on my nerves. I used to like this couple but there is something I am sensing that I don't like anymore. I think it is because they act holier than thou while criticizing the other candidates. I like it better when the candidate focuses on issues, not the other candidates, and she is just a whiner.

Posted by: lucy | August 15, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

What's wrong with this picture? The use of John's 2004 language? How about the speach writers language. She said it her self. This is nonsense.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I like the Edwardses, but Elizabeth Edwards has lost her way with this petty allegation. I agree it looks desperate fretting about others stealing your signature rethoric. The article accurately points out Obama's long use and familiarity with the phrase.

As for the audience question, well, Obama may have indeed "copied" that. It's a revealing question. I'd expect candidates to listen to each other and possibly learn from another. That's what people do (and ought to do, I might add.)

Particularly those on the same side. So why shouldn't Obama ask the same question? Why not learn a bit from a gifted trial lawyer?

Posted by: Charles from Berlin | August 15, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I don't think any politician can lay claim to catch phrases about hope...they are about as old as politics itself. But beyond that, the Hillary and Obama supporters here are showing their insecurity because they know that when the campaign gets past a media popularity contest down to debating the issues, Edwards will beat their candidates hands down. What they really fear and know is that the voters will recognize that.

Posted by: TTJ | August 15, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Obama is almost the leader , and the other candidate are followers!
he is basically fighting against all the other candidates!
That is why I think , he will win the nommination against the established candidate(HRC).

Posted by: ericwillyb | August 15, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Politicians are the ultimate plegiarists. Any catch phrase that puts them in a positive light to get votes is fair game to use in speeches. Mary Edwards comes across as desperate when she makes common political speak like "hope" an issue. I think I first heard hope used in high school class officer campaigns. Geez, find something else to talk about.

Posted by: r man | August 15, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

the only thing original aobut obama is that he's duped some democrats like bush duped most republicans

Posted by: Barb | August 15, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Edwards' problem is they think and talk like trial lawyers. I believe he has personal concerns for the citizenry and would probably be a better president than any other in sight now. I would like to see him relax his facial expression, not twist his mouth around his words and try not speaking AT his audience but with them as just folks. I believe we could end with a ticket of Gore/Edwards and I would love it.

Posted by: russell | August 15, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry russell, but the thought of "Chicken Little" running for president again is either ludicrous or hilarious. Take your pick.

Posted by: r man | August 15, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

In 1985 John Edwards won a $6.5 million dollar judgment in a medical malpractice case... his lucrative legal career continued for more than a decade.

That same year, Barack Obama moved to the south side of Chicago to take a paycut to be a community organizer for people who had been laid off from various factory closings.

Edwards and Obama are very similar in their rhetoric but Obama's been walking the walk a lot longer. I voted for Edwards in the 2004 primary but now that Obama is in the race, he's my first choice. Obama/Edwards 08!

Posted by: Matt Cowherd | August 15, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Matt, why did you skip Obama takiing money from the Mob?
WHile Edwards who is a decade older was working for a living, Obama was taking cash from Crooks.

And Obama has never stuck with a job ... he gets a check on his resume, and then he's gone.

Now his wife would be a good canidate

Posted by: barb | August 15, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say but it is not the people who will select the demo canidate , it will be the media , the newspapers ,reporters, the TV

Posted by: Raul | August 15, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say but it is not the people who will select the demo canidate , it will be the media , the newspapers ,reporters, the TV

Posted by: Raul | August 15, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say but it is not the people who will select the demo canidate , it will be the media , the newspapers ,reporters, the TV

Posted by: Raul | August 15, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Sad to say but it is not the people who will select the demo canidate , it will be the media , the newspapers ,reporters, the TV

Posted by: Raul | August 15, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me but isn't Hillary a lawyer and Obama too? Let's get down to the issues. John Edwards is speaking up for the people who keep this country going, by paying their taxes.

Posted by: BJ | August 15, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama was sworn in with his hand on a koran. He went to a wahabi school in Indonesia. Is he a sunni or a shiite? If he is a sunni, is he militant or a "jack" sunni? What is his opinion of Osama and Al Quida? What is his view on the separation of church and state?Does he believe we should declare a Holy War against Al Quida in the mosques in the US and Europe??

Posted by: JohnM | August 15, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Now Mrs. Edwards is taking potshots at Sen. Obama, saying he's copying her one-term wonder husband (who was ZERO help to Kerry); just recently she took similarly absurd potshots at The Senatrix. Isn't it time the Cornpone Narcissus spoke for himself? Hate to say it, but one begins to wonder whether his spouse's illness is the same as Rudy Giuliani's in 2000 - the one he claimed forced him to chicken out of challenging Ankleless Annie in 2000.

Posted by: Philip V. Riggio | August 15, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Edwards get a grip....stop putting your wife up to saying all the hard stuff. Maybe we should change the ticket to Elizabeth Edwards for President..... I sincerely doubt that Obama stold the line from Edwards seeing as his pastor preached that sermon back in the 80's and it changed his life and made him give his life to Christ. Next Edwards will be taking credit for that too!

Posted by: Cainfrannie | August 15, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

While most of the relative commentary is about what John Edwards and his stalwart wife did or didn't do, the media kings continue to act as though the only people running for the democrats are Hillary and Obama. For goodness sake, be realistic and look at the handwriting on the wall....the final count will be about the same as when Truman beat Dewey in the finals...don't believe all you read in the front pages...the littdle people will win this one and they are for the guy who has dedicated his life to fighting for he made a good living while he was in the ring.....he doesn't get a basketball salary....he is fighting for a job that pays 200,000 + per annum. He's the Man We Need! I'm one of the little people.

Posted by: Jake Shepherd | August 15, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

It's becoming more clearer every day.

Barack has done his part and stands on his own character, life and actions.

The most important job he (Barack) has left on this run for presidency is, sit back, allow the media to follow silly remarks and arguments about Barack, and let the other candidates make fools of there selves, the country, and the office the claim the desire to have.


The second most important thing Barack needs to do is debate!

Sad isn't it?

Posted by: vicbennettnet | August 16, 2007 2:34 AM | Report abuse

At this time I plan to vote for Obama because he is honest... and brave enough to BE honest. What a departure for present politics. I feel the same kind of hope that excited us in 1960... with a youthful, energetic, well-spoken candidate who is not afraid to do two things... propose clear ideas and offer an admirable personal example.

Posted by: moosita | August 16, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

This type of "echo" is the fault of the speechwriter. Edwards' and Obama's themes are similar, and the writer is probably being lazy and just re-wording his old material. Not Obama's fault, but if he's smart he'll change writers now.

On a broader view though, it's undeniable that HRC and Obama are taking cues from Edwards. Witness Edwards withdrawing from the Fox debate and the others following suit. Like it or not, Edwards has been shaping the Democratic platform for a long time now.

Posted by: Trillian | August 16, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

you guys are all in a fog, if you think the middle class people are going to go behind the curtain and vote for Obama, I'll tell you will vote for Obama and that will be every Republican because they will wear him out in the party primaries, it will be a field day for them when Foreign issues are discussed and have mercy if they ask that idiot what he's going to do on war subject because he has declared war already on Pakistan and will probably end up bombing Great Britain, please help all of us. He's clueless on National defense and foreign affairs=the End.

Posted by: | August 16, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You're all nuts.

Posted by: Ken Mueller, Los Angeles | August 16, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Why are the Edwards taking potshots at Senator Obama? They are scared - same reason that Hillary starts garbage stuff aimed at Obama. Barack Obama represents REAL change and that scares the heck out of the establishment - of which both Edwards and Clinton are a part of. However, the people know the real deal. The people are fed up with "business as usual" and see through the smokescreen of the "politics as usual" crowd and they aren't afraid of real change - as a matter of fact they are embracing it, craving it.

Posted by: Kim | August 16, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what Elizabeth Edwards has to say? She's NOT running for president!

Posted by: FemaleNick | August 16, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

What has Barack done so far in the Senate?
How has he helped to end the Iraq war? If he wants more bipartisanship, will he not concentrate on those issues the Republicans will agree to? Isn't that more of the same? What will be the change?
Will it be that Dems and Repubs will speak nicely to each other?

Posted by: freckles | August 16, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Lately, it seems that Edwards has been mimicking Obama on a number of issues, whether it involves having the guts to talk to people who don't like us, or saying that if Pakistan's military dictator Musharaff won't go after the terrorists on his turf, then we will.
But Edwards should have been listening to Obama before he voted to give George Bush a blank check on Iraq. All of his lame "apologies" ever since will not bring back our lost soldiers, the thousands of dead Iraqis, or the respect America once enjoyed around the world. What seperates Obama from Hillary and Edwards and Biden and Dodd is Obama's good judgement on that one issue, and their tragic mistake of enabling Bush and his War.

Posted by: don mooney | August 17, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I have the "audacity to hope" that John Edwards will soon stop running around the country, dragging his very ill wife (cancer that can not be stopped)with him. Ms. Edwards looks so tired and I cringe that John Edwards gives so much attention to his own appearance.

One would think that when life is extremely limited for the one you love...that your priority would be to stay home with the loved one and the small children and savor every moment that is left...especially for the children. A campaign is so stressful yet she is there by his side.

Every word he speaks is meaningless to me because of how he treats his wife and children and I am willing to bet that he will lose because of this issue.

Posted by: Aileen | August 17, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh that's just silly. Anybody who reads would know where Obama's phrase came from. I bet the anonymous Democrative operative was from the Clinton camp too. Don't you guys have something better to do, like actually reporting facts (after you check them) or researching the candidates' positions on real issues (not the wedge issues)? Get to work and earn your paychecks.

Posted by: Gail | August 20, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Actually, if Democrats want a leader they WON'T vote for Edwards.

Posted by: jb | August 20, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

eliabeth edwards should rest and stay at home with her kids. she can say anything she wishes with immunity cause no one will come back to her, with a rebuke.she and ms. clinton should concentrate on their own campaigns and stop focusing on mr obama. the poster who said mr obama took the oath with his hand on the koran is a racist liar. the debates on sunday that started out asking all the other candidate to critize mr. obama were also very wrong, can't anynyone else see this? involve all the candidates not just the three most in the media. also stop blaming mr. obama for being in the news so much, it's not his fault that they follow him around like little guppies.

Posted by: dee kuhlmann | August 20, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I have never forgotten the education I received from my mother, "Spit in one hand, wish in the other - see which one gets full first." It is a great waste of time that the author of this article did not explain the meaning of "hope," which is the same as "wish" and "pray" -- See Wickipedia. All of the ink and paper used for the article and the comments would have been saved. The only purpose of those three words is to pretend to say something of importance while you do nothing.

Posted by: Harmon Chamberlin | August 20, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

lost track with so many posting, bu tas for the first two saying that hope is on the way did not get many vote in 2004, what about the 58 million plus votes that were cast for Edwards for VP in '04? As I remember it that was a record votes cast for any Dem and certainly more than either Gore or Lieberman did for in the three previous elections for VP. Face it folks, Edwards is the only Democrat that can win in 2008, especailly now that Bloomberg has removed himself as a potential third party candidate. The only reason we won in the '90's was because of Perot, and we only did it with 43% of the popular vote. I am neither sexest nor racist, but million of voters are, especailly in the purple states where we must win if we are to beat the GOP. Edwards is the only one running that can beat them in these states. Yes, Edwards is leading and for all of our sake, let us hope he continues to lead all the way to next Nov. and beyond!

Posted by: mike | August 20, 2007 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I am astounded at the level of knowledge in some of these posts. First of all, Barack Obama did NOT have his hand on the Koran when he was sworn in; he is a Christian last I looked. (That was the Muslim Congressman from Minnesota, I believe.) Second, the pay for the president was raised to $400,000/year. And on it goes. It's like My Pet Goat. Say it often enough and it becomes "true" even though the name of the book is The Pet Goat. Where are the editors? And most of the posts are correct. Audacity of hope was a phrase used by Mr. Obama's pastor when he was working in Chicago -- way before his speech at the 2004 Convention. Or John Edwards. Thanks.

Posted by: pavementrat | August 20, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

aileen: ms edwards needs something vital to concentrate on rather than her cancer and imminent demise. as a fellow cancer survivor, i applaud and encourage her participation in the campaign. we only have one it YOUR for obama's alledged oral plagiarism,get ON with your life.

keithm: it was not barack obama but minn senator, keith ellison, the 1st muslim senator, that was sworn-in with his hand on the koran (incidentally,the holy book was culled from President Thomas Jefferson's personal library).

edwards does know the issues faced by the underserved-ahem-vis a vis his trial lawyer cases. though he pays 450 for a haircut, he cares about the concerns facing the of his ideas is to give housing vouchers to low-income families so they can find housing in upscale neighborhoods. while i'm all for that it is naive to believe edwards believes this to be viable for both parties involved (the beverly hillbillies comes to mind). Note:john lives in a 28000sqft house situated on 102 acres. i doubt HE would welcome any low-income families to his (neighbor)hood a la chicken little gore's U$D30k annual carbon footprint@ a ginormously egregious 221,000kw!

these guys know how to talk but not to walk. come to think about, yeah, all the candidates do, huh?! well, i guess one could certainly agree that john edwards & co have "audacity." but of hope? mmm,well,yes,for hope that they win;for their hope to having the ultimate in power and authority.

Posted by: boredwell | August 21, 2007 12:28 AM | Report abuse

First of all, I read his first book "Dreams of My Father," and I know that he used that phrase in that book when discussing his neigborhood organizing days in Chicago. That was back in 1995, when you wouldn't of known him from adam.

Posted by: shankar goswami | August 21, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm tired - please forgive typos & grammar.

I had no idea that people were so under-representated by national lobbies. I have lots of people lobbying for me (list at bottom).

Mrs. Edwards remarks are unfortunate.

This following really is on topic:

The director at the disadvantage youth center where I volunteer nailed me for being too nice. One warning she told me. Then they come to "do homework in my office". She emphasized that the kids are here to learn and do their homework. Fun after homework.

I believe that I would first ask my spouse or partner to consider more carefully the effect of his/her remarks. Then I would say "If you continue - which is your right - I will have to make it clear that these remarks are yours and not my opinion."

Election reform can begin now. It doesn't take a law to behave better. No vacations during a time a war. Clinton and Obama could run together and give each other the best of each other. They could announce that an election is not entertainment. They could announce their opinions that all primaries should happen on the same day in late May. They could point out that shorter campaigns would enable people with less money to run for office. They could ask people to email questions and have their answers in written words (in several languages) available for people to study and consider. They won't need rich lobbies.

(I'm not speaking specifically to Democrats. I'm just not as well informed about them because I've been a Republican bigot. I promise to work on this.)

Then they could all (Democrats and Republicans) get back to work. Some problems can't wait until 2009.
A few of my Lobbyists:
veterans groups
domestic violence groups
animal abuse groups
nurses groups
teachers/education groups
tolerance groups
... and last, but not least groups for civil thoughtful conversations.

Posted by: bonnietoo | August 21, 2007 4:02 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe Obama is a "copycat." When he had said "audacity of hope" and "how many people here have federal lobbyist," I think he was just trying to get the same reaction from the audience as did John Edwards.

I'm a STRONG believer in Obama {if you can't tell} not just because of our ethnic group, but because he's different and should be given some type of credit, if any.

So when saying these things, he's just taking information from someone else and implying it to his work/speech. Just like when you were little and you were taught things at home, you take what you have learned and use it at school.

For instance, when I talk to my mother about topics we talked about during school, she gives me more knowledge to take to school so when the topic is brought up again, I can ask the teacher what she thought, therefore bringing me more knowledge everyday!

Obama is a great guy, I mean really, but when it comes to petty things like being a "copycat" I don't think that it will/would effect him in any way.


Posted by: Joshanna D. Hayes | August 25, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I am not committed to any of the candidates at this point but maybe its time we considered a candidate who can listen to others and makes objective decisions.
Obama has a reputation for considering differing points of view. This is a value that I question in either Clinton or Edwards.
We have a need to move beyond the left/right tug of war in our political views. Obama seems to represent a fresh view and seems less tainted by national politics.
The more he is attacked by the other candidates for his ideas the more I think they are running scared of the change he represents.

Posted by: justanotheridiot | August 27, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

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