Melania Trump's Republican National Convention speech, which was meant to be an introduction to Mrs. Trump and a source of insight into her husband's personality, quickly became controversial after claims arose that she plagiarized paragraphs from First Lady Michelle Obama. Trump’s campaign manager has vehemently denied any connection between Trump’s speech last night and Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention address, but if you look at two paragraphs in particular, the similarities are undeniable.
Below are the parts of the speeches in question:
"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values 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. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son," Trump said.
And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
Obama’s 2008 speech:
"And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: 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, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.
And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children -- and all children in this nation -- to know that the only limitto the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
We've all read the "do not plagiarize" section of every class syllabus, and this is pretty much the dictionary definition of plagiarism: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own.”
Not that this stopped the Trump campaign from continuously denying any overlap in Obama’s speech. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” that "to think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd." He even went so far as to blame the whole controversy on Hillary Clinton, saying, "This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It's not going to work." Chris Christie said on the Today show that the similarities weren't plagiarism because 93 percent of the speech was different than Obama's.
Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications advisor, also brushed off any notion of plagiarism, claiming in a statement that, "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."
But this statement, indicating that Melania worked with a whole team of people on the speech, doesn’t quite match up with what Mrs. Trump told NBC’s Matt Lauer pre-convention about her anticipated speech: "I read once over it, that's all, because I wrote it ... with (as) little help as possible."
The White House hasn't made any comment on the plagiarism allegations.
The Republican National Convention is off to an entertaining start—pass the popcorn, there are still three days left!