Donald Trump’s campaign denied that Melania Trump intentionally plagiarized first lady Michelle Obama in a Monday night speech and claimed that the media and Hillary Clinton supporters are pushing the flap that roiled the Republican convention on Tuesday.
“There is a political tint to this whole issue,” campaign manager Paul Manafort said, declining to comment in detail as to how Mrs. Trump’s speech was put together and whether anyone would be fired over the incident.
While two paragraphs of Melania Trump’s remarks matched the text of Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech nearly word-for-word, Manafort said Monday’s speech used “common words” to discuss the value of families and similar issues.
“We don’t believe there is anything in that speech that doesn’t reflect her thinking,” Manafort said.
Other Republicans expressed concern about the incident and suggested that consequences are in order.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that if a speechwriter of his did something, he would “probably” him or her, though he added “it all kind of depends on the circumstances and how it was written.”
Priebus also told reporters he doesn’t know what happened with Mrs. Trump’s speech: “I don’t have a view yet.”
Democrats called it an out-and-out case of plagiarism and said heads should roll.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, speaking on CNN, said that while Mrs. Trump “deserves credit for delivering a very nice speech,” the Trump campaign “is going to have to answer for the content of that speech.”
She disputed claims that Democrats are pushing the story: “You know, the Trump Organization, whether it’s Paul Manafort or anyone, all the way up to Donald Trump himself, anytime they are caught red handed engaging in distortions, inaccuracies, a fact pattern that is clearly not accurate, they blame someone else.”
There is no indication that Clinton had anything to do with the speech or the reaction to it. The similarities in wording were first noticed by journalist and interior designer Jarrett Hill.
And Trump’s communications adviser, Jason Miller, sent out a statement continuing the denial.
“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,” he said in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”