After President Trump's State of the Union address, commentators seized on his phrase "new American moment" as a headline and discussion point. But a former Obama official noticed the phrase might have been heisted from Hillary Clinton.
Roughly a quarter of the way through the 90-minute speech, Trump discussed the recent GOP tax cut and the future of job creation, then said, “This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”
Shortly after the speech ended, Tommy Vietor, a former spokesperson for the National Security Council and current podcaster, tweeted that he thought the phrase sounded familiar. And he pulled it up in a transcript of a 2010 speech by Clinton.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) January 31, 2018
Clinton, then secretary of state, was asserting a foreign-policy philosophy that was the ideological opposite of Trump's: That the United States should assume a position of world leadership. "Indeed the complexities and connections of today's world have yielded a new American moment, a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways," she said.
Vietor then posted a follow-up: Clinton had used the phrase even before that, at her 2009 Senate confirmation hearing: "I am proud to be an American at the dawning of this new American moment," she said.
While it was unclear if the line was lifted — and some on Twitter pointed out that it was a fairly generic idea — it reminded some on Twitter that borrowing from Democratic speechwriters runs in the family. At the 2016 Republican National Convention, future first lady Melania Trump delivered a speech in which one paragraph about values and respect was remarkably similar to several lines in Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.