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Jerry Brown Borrowed Rock Lyrics in Campaign Speech

October 24, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ Former California Gov. Jerry Brown began his third campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination with a speech using lines from an Australian rock group’s song without direct attribution.

Brown’s speech in Philadelphia on Monday turned words meant to criticize the treatment of aboriginal Australians into praise for America’s pioneering spirit.

″We carry in our hearts the true country and that can’t be stolen,″ Brown said. ″We follow in the spirit of our ancestors and that cannot be broken.″

The lyrics, from the 1988 single by Midnight Oil titled ″The Dead Heart,″ are as follows: ″We carry in our hearts the true country; and that cannot be stolen; we follow in the steps of our ancestry; and that cannot be broken.″

Ileana Wachtel, Brown’s assistant press coordinator, told The Associated Press late Wednesday that while Brown does not credit the group in the speech, an information sheet given to reporters at the time of the speech notes the source of the words.

A reporter for WGN radio station in Chicago heard the phrase in Brown’s speech and reported the use of the Midnight Oil phrase.

Midnight Oil is a group known for its politically charged music championing the rights of aboriginal Australians. Several other songs from the group’s 1988 ″Diesel and Dust″ album also sound this theme, including the hit ″Beds Are Burning.″ Lead singer Peter Garrett ran unsuccessfully for the Australian Senate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party.

Brown’s speech also quoted - and attributed by name - statements by Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln on popular government.

Brown, 53, is making his third attempt to capture his party’s presidential nomination. His 1976 and 1980 campaigns were unsuccessful. Brown was California’s governor from 1974 to 1982.

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