An April 29 Chicago Sun-Times article on a news conference Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) held during the April 28-29 California Democratic Party convention bore the headline: "Clinton draws on Park Ridge lesson," with the subhead reading: "She cribs from [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] by telling personal story of baby-sitting migrant workers' kids, calls for 'path of legalization.' " The article went on to report: "Clinton stole a page from Obama's book, segueing into anecdotes from her life." The Sun-Times, however, offered no explanation for its suggestion that the use of personal anecdotes in campaign rhetoric is somehow unique to Obama, and that Clinton was co-opting this tactic.
Clinton (like almost every politician that has preceded or followed her) has incorporated personal anecdotes into her campaign speeches for years -- and was doing so long before she had the opportunity to "crib" from Obama. She even used the specific anecdote the Sun-Times highlighted during her 2000 Senate campaign.
From the August 13, 2000, broadcast of NBC-New York affiliate WNBC's News Forum:
GABE PRESSMAN (host): When you were a little girl, did you want to be famous?
CLINTON: No, I wanted to help people. That's what I've always wanted to do. You know, I remember as a little girl, you know, putting together ... a kind of an Olympics program in my neighborhood to raise money to give to what was the United Way. And, you know, I remember, we collected all these --
PRESSMAN: How old were you?
CLINTON: Oh, I was probably about 10 and we collected all these pennies and nickels and dimes in a paper bag and I gave it to the man who'd come to take the money. I babysat for the children of migrant workers, which really opened my eyes to what life was like for other kids.
PRESSMAN: From Mexico?
CLINTON: From Mexico -- came up to Chicago to harvest the crops. You know, I've -- I've worked in so many charitable endeavors, because I felt that with so many blessings in my life that I was taught by my family and my church that I had to give back. So I've worked on behalf of abused children and foster children and to change our adoption system and to improve education not because I ever thought that I'd ever really get any credit for it but because it made me feel good. It made me feel like I was at least trying to help other people.
From the April 29 Chicago Sun-Times article:
She gave a news conference and answered questions about local California issues; he didn't. She offered some new thinking in her speech; he gave his usual stump speech and even borrowed lines from his recent talk on foreign policy to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
In fact, Clinton stole a page from Obama's book, segueing into anecdotes from her life, but he received a much warmer response from the crowd, even though he offered no new ground.
In her speech, Clinton talked about her childhood in Park Ridge, using it to focus on issues such as immigration reform -- a concern paramount to the huge Hispanic community in California.
She recalled Park Ridge was surrounded by farms that relied on migrant labor and that she used to baby-sit the workers' children, an experience that awakened her to the complexities of the immigrant experience.