During the 1988 Presidential election, Joe Biden; the then-presidential candidate was accused of mimicking a speech that British Labour Party Neil Kinnock delivered just four months prior.
Kinnock’s speech included the following lines:
Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Pointing to his wife in the audience:] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?
While Biden said:
I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Pointing to his wife in the audience:] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?
The vice president was forced to withdraw from the presidential race after Maureen Dowd of the New York Times exposed his plagiarized speech. Allegations followed that Biden lifted parts of other speeches from Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, and JFK.
Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. A barrage of subsidiary revelations by the press also contributed to Biden’s withdrawal: a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator’s boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden’s speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.
The controversy became two frenzies in one when it was disclosed that the campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis had earlier secretly distributed to several news media outlets an “attack video” juxtaposing the Biden and Kinnock speeches and revealing Biden’s word theft. The Dukakis campaign at first stonewalled and denied any part in the tape’s distribution, but when the truth emerged Dukakis was forced to fire his campaign manager, John Sasso, and political director, Paul Tully – the two who had orchestrated the maneuver. Dukakis himself insisted he had no prior knowledge of their actions, and though wounded, his candidacy survived the incident.