CLEVELAND — The Trump campaign on Tuesday dismissed criticism that Melania Trump directly lifted two passages nearly word-for-word from the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention, calling the complaints "just absurd.''
"There's no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech,'' Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, said Tuesday morning in a CNN interview. "Certainly, there's no feeling on her part that she did it,'' he said. "What she did was use words that are common words.''
Mrs. Trump's star turn at the Republican National Convention Monday night captivated a GOP crowd that had rarely heard from the wife of Donald Trump. The passages in question focused on lessons that Trump's wife says she learned from her parents and the relevance of their lessons in her experience as a mother.
Manafort said Mrs. Trump was aware of "how her speech was going to be scrutinized'' and said any notion that she picked up portions of Mrs. Obama's convention talk was "just absurd.'' He also tried to blame Hillary Clinton.
Melania Trump was accused of directly lifting two passages from a speech first lady Michelle Obama delivered at the 2008 Democratic National Convention for her speech at the Republican National Convention. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
"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,'' Manafort said. "It's not going to work.''
The White House declined to comment on similarities between the two prime-time speeches, but the issue is likely to arise at the daily White House briefing.
The passages in question came near the beginning of Mrs. Trump's roughly 10-minute speech. Her address was otherwise distinct from the address that Mrs. Obama gave when then-Sen. 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.''
'93 per cent of the speech is completely different': Christie
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said he would "probably'' fire his speechwriters if they lifted passages from someone else's remarks. Priebus told reporters at a Bloomberg breakfast that the controversy was a "distraction'' but said he expected the convention to get back on message Tuesday.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to tamp down the controversy, saying "93 per cent of the speech is completely different'' from the speech Mrs. Obama delivered. Christie said on NBC's "Today'' show that the women "expressed some common thoughts.'' He did not explain how he arrived at the 93 per cent figure.
Christie, a prominent Trump supporter who was set to speak at the convention later Tuesday night, predicted no one would be talking about the issue after Tuesday.
Another passage with notable similarities that follows two sentences later in Mrs. Trump's speech addresses her attempts to instil those values in her son.
Donald Trump called Melania Trump "my wife, an amazing mother, an incredible woman.'' (Photo: AP)
"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 the first lady'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.''
Trump's campaign initially responded that Mrs. Trump's "immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech.'' The statement didn't 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.
Passages near the beginning Melania Trump's 10-minute speech bore similarities to Michelle Obama's speech. (Photo: Reuters)
In an interview with NBC News taped ahead of her convention appearance and posted online early Tuesday, Mrs. Trump said of her speech, "I wrote it.'' She added that she had "a little help.''
On the whole, Mrs. Trump 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 to begin with.''
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 with elbow-length sleeves ending in big, puffy cuffs, spoke after an uncharacteristically brief introduction from her husband, who kissed her and called her "my wife, an amazing mother, an incredible woman.''
Also On HuffPost:
“I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?” Trump is quoted as saying of his then-wife in a 1990 Vanity Fair piece.
In his 2006 book Trump 101: The Way to Success, Trump wrote: "Beauty and elegance, whether in a woman, a building, or a work of art, is not just superficial or something pretty to see."
Because what else could possibly happen when you put men and women together?
"It's certainly not groundbreaking news that the early victories by the women on 'The Apprentice' were, to a very large extent, dependent on their sex appeal." -- How To Get Rich, 2004
"You know, it doesn't really matter what [the media] write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass." -- from an interview with Esquire, 1991
"I mean, we could say politically correct that look doesn't matter, but the look obviously matters," Trump said to a female reporter in a clip featured on "Last Week Tonight." "Like you wouldn't have your job if you weren't beautiful."
When a lawyer facing Trump in 2011 asked for a break to pump breastmilk for her infant daughter, The Donald reacted very poorly. "He got up, his face got red, he shook his finger at me and he screamed, 'You're disgusting, you're disgusting,' and he ran out of there," attorney Elizabeth Beck told CNN. Trump's attorney does not dispute that his client called Beck "disgusting."
“The most difficult aspect of the prenuptial agreement is informing your future wife (or husband): I love you very much, but just in case things don’t work out, this is what you will get in the divorce. There are basically three types of women and reactions. One is the good woman who very much loves her future husband, solely for himself, but refuses to sign the agreement on principle. I fully understand this, but the man should take a pass anyway and find someone else. The other is the calculating woman who refuses to sign the prenuptial agreement because she is expecting to take advantage of the poor, unsuspecting sucker she’s got in her grasp. There is also the woman who will openly and quickly sign a prenuptial agreement in order to make a quick hit and take the money given to her.” --Trump: The Art of the Comeback, 1997
“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” -- Trump: The Art of the Comeback, 1997
“[Angelina Jolie’s] been with so many guys she makes me look like a baby... And, I just don’t even find her attractive," he said in an interview with Larry King in 2006.
But don't worry, he's too much of a gentleman to actually say it. Or something.
Along with basically every other insult, ever. Ugh.
“My favorite part [of 'Pulp Fiction'] is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up. Tell that bitch to be cool. Say: 'Bitch be cool.' I love those lines.” -- TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, 2005
New York Times columnist Gail Collins recalled: "During one down period, I referred to him in print as a 'financially embattled thousandaire' and he sent me a copy of the column with my picture circled and 'The Face of a Dog!' written over it."
"Cher is an average talent who's out of touch with reality," he said in a 2012 Fox News interview. "Cher is somewhat of a loser. She's lonely. She's unhappy. She's very miserable."
"Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred," Trump said about himself one time. "Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
"All of the women on 'The Apprentice' flirted with me -- consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected." -- How To Get Rich, 2004