White House spokesman Josh Earnest says that passages incorporated into Melania Trump’s convention speech from Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008 show that Americans admire similar values in their political leaders.
Earnest was reacting to news that Meredith McIver, a Trump Organization staff writer, says she made a mistake in including the passages. He says that admiring the same values shows the nation isn’t as divided as it may seem. That’s a point made recently by US President Barack Obama.
Earnest said Mrs. Obama’s speech in 2008 drew widespread praise.
“I’m confident in the future, aspiring first ladies or potential first husbands will draw on the same kind of sentiments to advocate for their spouse,” he said.
The controversy erupted on social media Monday night after Ms. Trump’s speech as sharp-eyed viewers expressed outrage over the similarities to Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. It continued Tuesday as the Trump campaign’s explanation failed to mollify critics.
The passages in question came near the beginning of Mrs. Trump’s nearly 15-minute speech.
In one example, Mrs. Trump 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.”
Eight years ago, Mrs. Obama 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.”
There were similar overlaps in a passage dealing with conveying to children that there is no limit to what they can achieve. Mrs. Trump’s address was otherwise distinct from the speech that Mrs. Obama gave when her husband was being nominated for president.
In a statement issued by the campaign, Meredith McIver took the blame but made it clear that Mrs. Trump knew the passages were from the first lady’s speech.
“A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama,” McIver says of Mrs. Trump. “Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.”
Questions about plagiarism hung over the opening days of the GOP convention, overshadowing Mrs. Trump’s performance, which had enthralled the convention delegates. The statement came after the campaign spent two days insisting that it wasn’t plagiarism and calling the criticism absurd.
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