According to CNN, Melania Trump had been “working with a speechwriter for the last five to six weeks, honing her speech” for the Republican National Convention. That five to six weeks of honing, it seems, involved grabbing a bunch of lines from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech at the Democratic convention.
Journalist Jarrett Hill seems to have been the first to notice that a section of Trump’s speech on Monday night copied Obama’s almost verbatim.
The plagiarism came about two minutes into her remarks, and mirrors a section in which Michelle Obama talked about the values she was raised on. Here is the text side by side for comparison.
Trump: “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 thought and showed me values and morals in their daily life.”
Obama: “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, 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.”
Trump: “That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. 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: “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 limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.”
Before the plagiarism was revealed, Melania Trump’s speech played to mixed reviews. Her husband, though, thought she totally nailed it.
Points to Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times for noting the irony here:
Barack Obama himself was accused of plagiarism by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008. Here’s the New York Times:
The controversy arose after Mr. Obama, of Illinois, delivered a speech at a Democratic Party dinner in Wisconsin. He responded to criticism from Mrs. Clinton, of New York, who argued that Mr. Obama might deliver smooth speeches, but that she was better prepared to solve problems.
“Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” he said in his remarks. “ ‘I have a dream.’ Just words? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’ Just words? ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words? Just speeches?”
The passage was similar to one used by [Deval] Patrick in response to similar criticism.
Obama’s vice president Joe Biden was forced to quit the 1988 presidential race after he was caught plagiarizing from British politician Neil Kinnock. As David Greenberg explained in Slate, Biden “borrow[ed] biographical facts from Kinnock that, although true about Kinnock, didn’t apply to Biden. Unlike Kinnock, Biden wasn’t the first person in his family history to attend college, as he asserted; nor were his ancestors coal miners, as he claimed when he used Kinnock’s words.”