Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has an odd defense for Melania Trump’s major Republican National Convention speech mishap.
It’s all Hillary Clinton’s fault.
During an interview following the repeated reports that a section of Melania Trump’s RNC speech was lifted directly from a speech given by First Lady Michelle Obama, Manafort told CNN that it wasn’t a scandal but is, instead, a plot created by former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in an effort to undermine a woman she finds threatening.
“This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton she’ll… take her down. It’s not going to work.”
You can see the interview in the video below.
— New Day (@NewDay) July 19, 2016
Manafort claimed that the idea that Melania Trump would have plagiarized anything is ridiculous, because she would have been aware of just how much scrutiny the speech would have received, so such an error would never have been made. And as far as the section of Melania Trump’s speech that matched, word-for-word, a speech Michelle Obama gave in 2008, Manafort dismissed the stunning similarities.
“These were common words and values,” Manafort said, “and to think that [Melania Trump] would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
The assertion that the speech simply was not plagiarized seems to run in direct conflict with his immediately prior statement that the RNC speech “scandal” is, in fact, a plot created by Hillary Clinton in order to “take [Melania] down.”
Manafort’s interview with CNN was the first acknowledgement of the scandal surrounding Melania Trump’s RNC speech. Before, the Trump campaign released a statement that simply acknowledged what they considered a job well done on the part of Trump’s wife.
“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. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
New Jersey Governor and once vice-presidential hopeful Chris Christie offered a different line of defense, stating that the one paragraph that seems to essentially been lifted directly from Michelle Obama’s speech does not actually constitute plagiarism. He explained his belief during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC Today.
“I know Melania. I think she worked very hard on that speech. A lot of what I heard last night sitting on the floor sounded very much like her and the way she speaks about Donald all the time,” Christie stated, and went on to express what he feels constitutes plagiarizing — that because the majority of Melania’s RNC speech was not lifted from Michelle Obama’s speech, it is not, as Manafort called it, “cribbing.”
“Not when 93 percent of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama’s speech. They expressed some common thoughts.”
Matt Lauer quickly countered, “Well, almost word for word,” but Christie simply ignored that comment and went on to say that the first day of the convention is “bloated,” and that the national conversation quickly move on to another topic within the next news cycle.
Below are the sections of Melania Trump’s speech, compared to Michelle Obama’s earlier speech given in 2008.
“MELANIA TRUMP: 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 morals in their daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to many generations to follow 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.”
Michelle Obama’s speech contained largely the same language, arrangement of words, and sentiment.
“MICHELLE OBAMA: 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, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them… And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to 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 for them.”
You can watch a side-by-side of both speeches below, and let us know what you think. Is Melania Trump’s speechwriter to blame for plagiarizing, or was this a simple case of common words and common thoughts, or, as Manafort implied, is this somehow Hillary Clinton’s fault?
[Photos by Joe Raedle/Getty Images and Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic/Getty Images]