Marco Rubio Plagiarized Barack Obama’s 2008 Iowa Victory Speech-Reported as Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Marco Rubio has been accused of plagiarizing the speech Barack Obama gave after unexpectedly winning the 2008 Iowa Caucus.
Marco Rubio’s 2016 Iowa Caucus speech opened with the same themes as Barack Obama’s 2008 speech, but the claim that Rubio plagiarized the speech is false.
Those accusations came up days after Rubio unexpectedly finished third, just behind Donald Trump, the odds-on favorite to win. Because Marco Rubio exceeded expectations in the caucus, his performance was viewed by most as a “win,” and his speech reflected that.
The controversy started when Bloomberg Politics reporter Sahil Kapur tweeted about similarities between Rubio’s and Obama’s speeches on February 1st:
That claim gained credibility after Jon Favreau, former director of speechwriting for Obama, tweeted that Rubio “could’ve at least thanked Obama for the opening line” of his speech:
The opening lines of the two speeches are undeniably similar. After upsetting Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, then-Senator Barack Obama delivered a speech that began:
They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do…
After finishing third, meanwhile, Marco Rubio’s speech began:
So, this is the moment they said would never happen. For months, they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or political endorsements we had no chance. They told me because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high. They told me I needed to wait my turn, that I needed to wait in line. But tonight, tonight here in Iowa, the people have sent a clear message: After seven years of Barack Obama we are not waiting any longer to take our country back…
Still, it can be argued that the two speeches are similar because the candidates were in similar situations at the time of their speeches. They were both underdogs, they both outperformed expectations, and they both defied critics. Underdogs in sports and politics use “they said it couldn’t be done” rhetoric to put their accomplishments into perspective all the time. Obama didn’t coin it, he popularized it.
Besides Rubio, there are countless examples of the “they said it couldn’t be done” theme in popular culture. The theme was used in popular culture as far back as the 1920s. Even other Republican candidates in the 2016 election have used it.
John Kasich repeated that phrase over and over again when he announced his candidacy in July 2015:
You know, they said it couldn’t be done. We proved them wrong.
And then at the ripe old age of 30, I decided I’m going to run for Congress. My mother and father are, like, “Johnny, what are you doing now?” Well, they said I couldn’t win, I was too young and, by the way, I was going to run against an incumbent in 1982, which was the worst year. We lost 26 Republican seats that year. I was going run against a guy with his degree from Harvard. I knew I had an edge; clearly he couldn’t have gotten in to Ohio State.
And in 1982 I was the only Republican in America to defeat a Democrat all across this country. And guess what, here is the irony, I got to go to Washington and work with President Ronald Reagan, you know? They said it couldn’t be done, but we proved them wrong again.
And then I got down to Washington and got on the Armed Services Committee for 18 years. I found that these hammers and screwdrivers, they cost thousands of dollars and it was taking the resources from the people that needed it who were serving in the military. We were wasting money and I said, “We need to clean this up,” and they’re like, “You know, come on, it’s the Pentagon. You can’t—forget about it, it can’t happen.”
Well, we passed some legislation and we made things right. We saved money, we improved the system, and we helped the military. They said it couldn’t be done, and we proved them wrong again.
Chris Christy also used “they said it couldn’t be done” over and over in his 2012 Republican National Convention speech:
When I came into office, I could continue on the same path that led to wealth, jobs and people leaving the state or I could do the job the people elected me to do – to do the big things.
There were those who said it couldn’t be done. The problems were too big, too politically charged, too broken to fix. But we were on a path we could no longer afford to follow.
They said it was impossible to cut taxes in a state where taxes were raised 115 times in eight years. That it was impossible to balance a budget at the same time, with an $11 billion deficit. Three years later, we have three balanced budgets with lower taxes.
We did it.
So, there are plenty examples of candidates (especially underdogs) using “they said it couldn’t be done” in their speeches. It was unusual (and questionable) for Rubio to open his Iowa Caucus speech with it given that Obama had done the same in 2008, but that doesn’t make it plagiarism. Given its wide spread use, it could just as easily be a coincidence. That’s why we’re classifying these plagiarism claims as fiction.