Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Axelrod is key word for Obama, Patrick"

Chicago Tribune:
Barack Obama and Deval Patrick share more than common ideas about politics and a similar way of phrasing their thoughts from time to time.
They also share an important friend, Democratic consultant David Axelrod, a political wordsmith and admaker who helped Patrick become governor of Massachusetts and who is now a key player in the run for president by Obama, a senator from Illinois.

Obama rival Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York thinks Axelrod is "putting words in both of their mouths," noting similarities in some of Obama's and Patrick's comments in speeches.

But Axelrod, a Chicagoan, said Tuesday he had "nothing to do with" the similarities and they simply show that the two politicians share a similar outlook.

"One thing I emphatically deny is authorship of those lines or any of the great lines that Barack and Deval Patrick use," Axelrod said in an interview. "I had to come to grips early on in my relationship with Barack Obama that he was a far better writer than me, and the same is true with Deval Patrick."

The issue arose Monday when the Clinton campaign pointed out that words in an Obama speech Saturday recalled remarks by Patrick during his campaign for governor in 2006.

On Tuesday, a second example arose. A pair of videos cropped up on YouTube showing Patrick and Obama uttering almost the same line.

"I am not asking anybody to take a chance on me," Patrick says in the latest posting, a speech from 2006. "I'm asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."

In the clip from a 2007 speech, Obama says, "I'm not just asking you to take a chance on me. I'm also asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."

Patrick has said he suggested that Obama use the lines that he borrowed over the weekend. And Obama frequently jokes about "trading lines" with Patrick, according to friends. In a December appearance in New Hampshire, ABC News quoted him attributing a line to the governor.

"I'm stealing this line from my buddy Deval Patrick, who stole a whole bunch of lines from me when he ran for the governorship," Obama reportedly said.

An aide to Obama said Tuesday that quote makes the senator's point.

"It is not a secret that Obama and Patrick trade lines all the time," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. "They talk about just that fact all the time."

The Obama campaign is less sanguine about Clinton's use of words similar to Obama's. But asked by a reporter if she should face criticism for using Obama's phrase, "Fired up and ready to go," Clinton said, "Oh, that's kind of a silly comparison. That's a line that's been around a long time."

Obama and Patrick sometimes say similar things, Axelrod said, because "both of them are running -- and have run in the past -- challenges to the established political order."

"They are very good friends," he said. "I know that they talk about language all the time because, frankly, they're the two best writers in politics that I've ever known."

He said he works with both men because "they represent the kind of politics I believe in. I plead guilty to good taste."

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