In her first major address before the nation on Monday night, Melania Trump appears to have plagiarized a number of lines from first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The plagiarized passages, in bold below, concerned the importance of hard work and honesty.
“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,” Trump told the thousands of Republican delegates and assembled media on Monday night in Cleveland.
In 2008, Mrs. Obama said, “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.”
Trump’s spouse also lifted a line about children from Michelle Obama, saying, “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 2008, Michelle Obama said, “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.”
The Huffington Post reached out to the Trump campaign about the lifted lines, but a spokeswoman did not reply to the questions. A party spokesperson said the Republican National Committee would not be commenting on the issue.
Melania Trump was born in Slovenia, and English is one of a number of languages she speaks. Her Monday night primetime speech was the highlight of the first night of the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Regardless of whether the Trumps watched Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008 live, we do know that Donald Trump enjoyed her 2012 address.
The apparent plagiarism was originally pointed out by journalist and interior designer Jarrett Hill on Twitter.
It’s unclear how much of her speech Melania actually wrote, but earlier in the day she told NBC’s Matt Lauer, “I read once over it and that’s all. Because I wrote it and with [as] little help as possible.”
As word of the plagiarism began to spread early Tuesday, Trump supporters on cable news offered little in the way of defense. Jeffrey Lord, a Trump supporter on CNN, said whoever was responsible for the plagiarism “should not be there.” Overall, however, he downplayed the issue. “This is not Benghazi.”
As the day continued, the Trump campaign and its supporters offered a slew of reasons for the lifted words ― including that the plagiarism was a compliment or simply an accident.
Trump communications adviser Jason Miller, in a response early Tuesday, acknowledged that Melania Trump’s speech included “fragments” reflecting her experiences and referred to a “team of writers,” essentially refuting her claim that she wrote the speech.
“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,” Miller said in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday tried to shift blame for the plagiarism issue to Hillary Clinton supporters. “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “These were common words and values that she cares about — her family, things like that.”
“I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night,” Mr. Manafort said. “She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
“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 said. “It’s not going to work.”
Paul Blumenthal, S.V. Date and Amber Ferguson contributed reporting.
This article has been updated to include two statements from the Trump campaign.