CLEVELAND — Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican Party officials offered several defenses Tuesday for the stark similarities between the speech that Trump’s wife Melania delivered on the opening night of the GOP convention and an address by Michelle Obama at the Democrats’ national gathering in 2008.
The sentences in question are common phrases, Republican National Committee chief strategist Sean Spicer said on CNN, comparing excerpts of Trump’s speech late Monday to sentiments uttered by musicians John Legend and Kid Rock.
Spicer also quoted a character from a children’s franchise.
“Melania Trump said, ‘the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them,’ ” Spicer said. “Twilight Sparkle from ‘My Little Pony’ said, ‘This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now.’ ”
He said, “We’re talking about 70 words, three passages.”
The spotlight-shy Melania Trump gave a poised speech to headline the first night of the weeklong convention to nominate her husband for president, but her delivery was overshadowed by what were distinct echoes of remarks by Michelle Obama.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus at a Bloomberg News breakfast here in Cleveland did not blame Trump herself and said he’d “probably” oust the speechwriter. “Some of these things are pretty common types of themes,” he said.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on CNN Tuesday morning that the staffer behind Melania Trump’s speech should resign and “be held accountable.”
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz at an unrelated Cleveland event said Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign isn’t playing up the incident. “Melania Trump comported herself very well on the stage in front of the American people,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The Trump campaign is the one that should be held accountable for the content of it.”
Donald Trump’s de facto campaign manager Paul Manafort pushed back against the claims of plagiarism. “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values. She cares about her family,” he said.
Leading New York Republicans at a breakfast at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel also downplayed the similarities.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) dismissed the incident as a “mistake,” adding, “I don’t think anyone would do it intentionally.”
Melania Trump, a former fashion model raised in Slovenia, said Monday at Quicken Loans Arena: “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.”
In 2008, Michelle Obama said: “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,” she said then, “even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”
Michelle Obama added: “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.”
Melania 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.”
With Michael Gormley