19 Jul 2016

Melania Trump accused of plagiarising Michelle Obama in convention speech

10:21 pm on 19 July 2016

Donald Trump's wife, Melania, has taken centre stage on the first day of the Republican National Convention but faced accusations a portion of her speech plagiarised Michelle Obama.

Commentators noticed similarities with Mrs Obama's 2008 convention speech.

Melania Trump spoke on 19 July (NZT) at the Republican National Convention in Ohio.

Melania Trump spoke on 19 July (NZT) at the Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: AFP

Mrs Trump's speech also praised her husband as a "compassionate" man who would "fight for the country".

It was her first speech of the campaign and she had the help of a speechwriting team.

In a section, Mrs Trump said: "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."

Mrs Obama's speech in 2008 carried the lines: "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."

Mrs Trump speech continued: "[My parents] taught me to show the values and morals in my daily life. That is the 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."

Mrs Obama said: "And Barack Obama and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generations. Because we want our children, and all children in this nation, to know that the only limit to the height of your achievement is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."

But Mr Trump's team said Mrs Trump used "common words" and blamed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for the row.

"There's no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech," said Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's campaign manager. "I mean, this is, once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down,'' he added.

Mr Trump's communications adviser Jason Miller issued a statement saying: "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."

'He is the guy'

The Slovenian-born former model had used the speech to portray her husband as a tough but compassionate unifying force.

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump introduces Melania (out of frame) at the convention in Cleveland, Ohio

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump introduces Melania (not pictured) at the convention in Cleveland, Ohio Photo: AFP

"He's tough when he has to be but he's also kind and fair and caring," Mrs Trump said.

"The kindness is not always noted, but it's there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him to begin with."

Mrs Trump has kept a lower profile compared with other spouses of major candidates. Mr Trump's adult children have often filled the role.

Mrs Trump's mostly personal speech contrasted with the night's other speakers who spoke about "making America safe again".

"If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he is the guy," Mrs Trump said.

A wide range of speakers, including a county sheriff, a decorated combat veteran and a former model, told stories of military service, urban crime and the dangers of illegal immigration.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton took aim at Hillary Clinton, questioning her judgement in foreign affairs.

"Who would trust Hillary Clinton to protect them?" said Mr Giuliani, whose rousing speech fired up the crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. "I wouldn't."

Many Republican party leaders - such as Ohio Governor John Kasich, whose state is hosting the convention - have decided not to attend this year's festivities, turned off by Mr Trump's controversial stances on immigration and foreign policy.

Mr Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the US and also advocated deporting almost 11 million undocumented immigrants.

A speech by Wisconsin police sheriff David Clarke strongly defended police officers in the wake of the deadly shooting in Baton Rouge, which killed three officers over the weekend.

"Blue lives matter!" Mr Clarke said to huge cheers from the delegates in the convention hall.

The killings prompted Mr Trump to say the country was falling apart - a claim strongly disputed by President Barack Obama.

Earlier, anti-Trump delegates failed in their final push to block Mr Trump's nomination.

The vote that would have allowed delegates to back a candidate of their choice was quashed when three states reportedly backed out.

Some said the Republican Party officials had sabotaged their efforts on purpose.

The push was the last gasp for those who hope to see a different Republican candidate get the nomination.

The convention - all you need to know

- BBC