Melania Trump has been accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama. The wife of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was speaking in praise of her husband Donald at the Republican National Convention last night. Commentators have pointed out that sections of her speech seemed to have been copied wholesale from an address given by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008. Ironically, the passages in question concern the importance of hard work, honesty, and character.
You can watch a comparison of the two speeches above, but here's the transcript from Melania Trump's speech:
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 me to show the values and morals in my daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son.
And we need to pass those lessons on to the 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.
And here's the similar section from Michelle Obama's address:
And 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.
The similarities between these two passage are too extensive to be pure coincidence, but following these accusations of plagiarism, there's been some confusion over exactly who wrote the speech. Previously Melania said she wrote it with "as little help as possible," but a report from CNN has since stated that "Melania has been working with a speechwriter for the last five to six weeks, honing her speech."
The @MLauer interview in which Melania says she wrote tonight's speech with as little help as possible -> pic.twitter.com/REYNpXpKwd— Catherine Garcia (@CatherineNBCSD) July 19, 2016
The Trump campaign issued a statement on the topic, but failed to address the specific issue of passages copied from Obama's speech. The statement did however mention that Melania had a "team of writers," and that "in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking" — which could be read as a tacit admission that portions of the speech originated elsewhere.
Statement from Trump campaign on plagiarism in Melania's speech: pic.twitter.com/ljuH2LhkZh— Jose A. DelReal (@jdelreal) July 19, 2016
And this wasn't the only curious section of Trump's speech. It was also noted that Melania appeared to have included a subtle Rickroll (or at least part of one), attesting that her husband will "never, ever give up" and "never, ever let you down."
But to reiterate (and to paraphrase @tvoti), the real speechwriter's scandal here is this ACTUAL RICKROLL?!?!?!?!?! pic.twitter.com/eSuFbbVs43— mr. sonia (@soniasaraiya) July 19, 2016
Although in fairness, it looks like this particular phrasing has nothing to do with Rick Astley, but is simply part of the Trump campaign's use of emotive, straightforward language. Donald Trump has previously used the phrase "never gonna let you down" in past speeches, although as far as we know, neither Melania nor Trump have ever promised to never run around and desert you.