The Trump campaign has dismissed criticism that Donald Trump’s wife Melania directly lifted two passages nearly word-for-word from the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention, calling the complaints “just absurd”.
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, said on Tuesday in a CNN interview. “Certainly, there’s no feeling on her part that she did it,” he said.
The Slovenian-born former model, who is 24 years her husband’s junior, spoke to the crowd at the Republican National Convention on Monday night.
The passages in question focused on lessons that Trump’s wife says she learned from her parents and the relevance of their lessons in her experience as a mother.
Manafort said Mrs Trump was aware of “how her speech was going to be scrutinised” and said any notion that she picked up portions of Mrs Obama’s convention talk was “just absurd”.
The passages in question came near the beginning of Mrs Trump’s roughly ten-minute speech. Her address was otherwise distinct from the address that Mrs Obama gave when then-Senator Barack Obama was being nominated for president.
In Mrs Trump’s speech in Cleveland, she said: “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 life.”
In Mrs Obama’s 2008 speech in Denver, she said: “And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, that 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.”
Another passage with notable similarities follows:
“We need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow,” Mrs Trump said. “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.”
In the First Lady’s 2008 speech, she said: “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 limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.”