Melania Trump’s Convention Speech Lifted Phrases From Michelle Obama’s 2008 Address
The address was an opportunity—as Fortune‘s Tory Newmyer points out—to humanize her husband, whose boisterous public persona sheds little light on the man he is away from cameras and microphones. His wife, a former supermodel from Slovenia who’s been largely absent on the campaign trail, missed that chance and then some.
Shortly after she delivered her boilerplate remarks Monday night, the Internet erupted with allegations that the potential first lady had plagiarized the current one.
Journalist Jarret Hill first flagged how snippets of Trump’s speech overlapped with phrases from an address First Lady Michelle Obama gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. He told The New York Times that the words, “strength of your dreams,” caught his attention Monday night.
Indeed, there appears to be a very distinct echo in the political sphere.
At the RNC, Trump 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 lives. 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.”
“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 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 for them.”
In a prerecorded interview with NBC before taking the RNC stage, Trump said that she wrote the speech “with as little help as possible.” Though Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller released a statement early Tuesday morning praising Melania Trump’s address as “beautiful,” and noting that her “team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.” When Fortune asked the campaign to comment on the plagiarism allegations, a spokeswoman referred to Miller’s statement.
Twitter responded in true form with the tongue in cheek hashtag #famousmelaniatrumpquotes.
Donald Trump also responded characteristically, giving his wife’s speech an emphatic endorsement.
On CNN Tuesday morning, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denied that Melania Trump’s speech had stolen language from Obama’s 2008 remarks. “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” he said, explaining that Trump’s address featured “common words.” When CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asked again about the plagiarism allegations, Manafort said, “I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy. This is once again an example of when a women threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”
This post has been updated to reflect a response from the Trump campaign and Manafort’s comments on CNN.