A key theme of the RNC convention, besides America being a very scary place, riven with racial discord and terrorism threats, is positioning the nominee as far as possible from the rival party. Yet the opposite happened when Melania Trump, wife of the presumptive nominee, took the stage Monday. Party insiders were concerned that Donald would go off script in introducing her—he’s talking about his wife, after all. But Trump, after a WWE-style intro in which initially only his silhouette was visible, showed discipline in his brief remarks.
Melania then stepped to the podium and, as the pundits are having abundant fun with today, delivered a speech that at occasional times mirrored, nearly verbatim, that of Michelle Obama’s at the DNC event in 2008.
The spouse speech is all about touching on the human side of the candidate. Mrs. Trump told NBC News she wrote the speech herself, but it’s hard to believe that Melania’s words were entirely her own.
Part of Mrs. Trump’s speech went:
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me thevalues that 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.
Mrs. Obama’s speech went:
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the samevalues: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect…”
At least one other passage, about Mrs. Trump’s parents, was strikingly similar to part of the First Lady’s speech.
Mrs. Trump told Today anchor Matt Lauer, “I read once over it, and that's all. Because I wrote it…with as little help as possible."
To be sure, the large majority of the speech did not echo Michelle Obama’s. But with an enormous media presence in Cleveland, the kerfuffle was red meat for the news outfits covering every last whisper from the RNC. Trump convention manager Paul Manafort responded to the controversy on CNN on Tuesday morning, saying "there is no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech.”
“These were common words and values, and she cares about her family," Manafort added. "To think that she would do something like that, knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night, is just really absurd."
CNN featured the headline STOLEN WORDS across the top of its website, with headshots of Melania and Michelle.
On Fox News, Republican Party chief Reince Priebus said he’d “probably” fire Melania’s speechwriter if it were his call. Speaking at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast in Cleveland, Priebus added: “Some of these things are pretty common types of themes.” Priebus called the speech flap a “distraction.”
Let’s pace ourselves, folks—we have three more days of the GOP convention.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.