CLEVELAND (CBSNewYork/AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign chairman says it’s “just absurd” to claim that Melania Trump lifted two passages in her speech Monday to the Republican National Convention.
Questions are being over the passages that matched nearly word-for-word from a speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention.
They focus on lessons that Donald Trump’s wife says she learned from her parents and the relevance of their lessons in her experience as a mother.
“My parents impressed on me the value of that you work hard for what you want in life,” Melania Trump said. “That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. Show the values and morals in the daily life. That is the lesson that we continue to pass on to our son.
“We need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. [Cheering] Because we want our children in these nations to know that the only limit to your achievement is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
In her convention speech in 2008, Michelle Obama said, “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.”
Mrs. Trump’s address was otherwise distinct from the address that Mrs. Obama gave when then-Sen. Barack Obama was being nominated for president.
On Twitter, @JarrettHill first noticed the striking similarity between the speeches, CBS News reported.
Melania Trump claimed to have penned the speech on her own, mostly.
“I wrote it — with a little help as possible,” she told NBC News’ Matt Lauer in an interview Monday.
But former top Obama adviser David Axelrod called the speech “flat out plagiarism.”
“Whoever did that was grossly irresponsible,” he said on CNN.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort told CNN that “there’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech.”
He added that, “there’s no feeling on her part that she did it.”
Manafort suggested that Mrs. Trump was merely using “words that are common words.”
Trump campaign Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller also issued a statement saying, “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.”
Other Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Long Island Rep. Peter King, also came to Melania Trump’s defense on Tuesday.
White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday evening.
Melania Trump was the first of several of Donald Trump’s family members who are on the list of speakers at the Cleveland convention this week. Their appearances are an attempt to humanize the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
A former model who moved to the United States from Slovenia, she recounted how she became a U.S. citizen and she cited “the love in the Trump family.”
She also said she and her husband “love America very much” and that she, more than anyone, knows what she called “the simple goodness” of her husband’s heart.
Donald Trump drew cheers as he took the stage to introduce his wife before her remarks to the delegates.
The candidate made only brief comments, telling the crowd “We’re going to win, we’re going to win so big.”
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)