Donald Trump’s campaign team dismissed claims that the US presidential hopeful’s wife Melania lifted passages nearly word for word from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama, calling the complaints “just absurd”.
Mrs Trump spoke at the Republican National Convention on Monday night, and the passages in question focused on lessons she learned from her parents and their influence in her experience as a mother.
Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort told CNN: “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech.
“Certainly, there’s no feeling on her part that she did it. What she did was use words that are common words.”
Mr 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 talk at the Democratic National Convention was absurd.
The White House declined to comment on similarities between the speeches.
The passages in question came near the beginning of Mrs Trump’s roughly 10-minute speech. Her address was otherwise distinct from the speech 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 followed two sentences later in Mrs Trump’s speech addressing her attempts to instill those values in her son.
“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 Mrs Obama’s 2008 speech, she said: “Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto 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.”
Mr Trump’s campaign initially responded that Mrs Trump’s “immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech”.
The statement did not mention Mrs Obama.
“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,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said.
In an interview with NBC News ahead of her convention appearance, Mrs Trump said of her speech: “I wrote it,” adding that she had “a little help”.
On the whole, Mrs Trump said her husband presented a softer and gentler candidate. She said: “He is tough when he has to be, but he is also kind and fair and caring. This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him.”
The Slovenian-born former model, 24 years her husband’s junior, also reintroduced herself, showing poise as well as devotion to her adopted country and to her husband’s cause.
Mrs Trump, appearing in a striking white dress, spoke after an uncharacteristically brief introduction from her husband, who kissed her and called her “my wife, an amazing mother, an incredible woman”.
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