Melania Trump, wife of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump (and the nation’s potential First Lady), delivered the primetime speech during the Republican National Convention on Monday night. But the similarities to another speech has drawn accusations of plagiarism for the campaign. Although many have praised Trump's speech as an energetic, uplifting opener to the convention, several passages from Trump’s speech appear to be strikingly similar to one delivered by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, CNN reported. In fact, the passages were close enough in theme and construction to Obama’s that by Tuesday morning, the Trump campaign was fending off questions over who wrote Melania Trump's RNC speech.
The flap is over a two-paragraph section of Trump’s speech where she talked about the family’s values. In her speech on Monday night, Trump told the audience that her family taught her “you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect.” A Twitter user quickly found that exact wording in the speech that Obama delivered in 2008, describing the values that she and then-Senator Barack Obama had been raised with and hoped to instill in their daughters.
In total, more than 100 words from Trump’s 15-minute speech have been called into question, according to USA Today. And so far, the campaign is vehemently denying that Trump or her writers lifted language from the First Lady’s address to the Democratic delegation almost eight years ago. CNN posted an initial statement by Jason Miller, Donald Trump's senior communications adviser, saying that the speech was inspired by Melania Trump's "own thinking":
In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life's inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania's immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday morning, Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort used even stronger language, saying that “to think that she'd be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy" and that Trump used “common words and values” in her speech. Manafort went on to blame presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for the controversy, saying that the attacks on Trump were because Clinton felt "threatened" by the potential First Lady.
As for who wrote Trump’s convention speech, it’s possible that Trump herself played a significant role. In an exclusive interview with Today Show host Matt Lauer just hours before delivering her primetime address, Trump took credit for the address, saying that she had very little outside support in the writing process. “I read it once over, and that's all,” Trump told Lauer, “because I wrote it with as little help as possible.” Manafort seemed to confirm that account, telling CBS News that Trump “knew what she was doing” and that her words had undergone only the lightest of vetting through a “collaboration” with speechwriters:
Sure, people looked at the speech, but frankly, this was her vision of what she wanted to communicate about her husband.
Melania Trump was the primetime speaker for the “Make America Safe Again” opening night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The schedule continues on Tuesday night with the “Make America Work Again” night, featuring Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.