Melania Trump’s debut in her husband’s presidential bid was marred by careless crafting of her convention speech, but Donald Trump’s campaign took the bigger hit.
One year into his run for the White House, Trump, who prides himself on micro managing and not relying on a deep bench of professionals, hasn’t realized the stakes are rising. It’s a troubling reflection on his understanding of how to run an election and whether he has the skills to craft a team to run his administration.
Melania Trump’s sentiments Monday night about the virtues of honesty and integrity, and passing along those values to children, are timeless. But the sentence structure and phrasing copied Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention. Intercut video clips of the two speeches leave no mistake about the plagiarism. Trump’s wife was done a great disservice by his team in what was a successful and confident execution of her moment in the spotlight.
Prominent people don’t often write their own speeches. Usually, they meet with a writer to discuss their message and then review and revise the draft. There is a long list, however, of successful people who have made the same mistake of not checking every word of the ghostwriter. And there is no shortage of software commonly used by high school teachers to catch lazy students.
Worse is the campaign’s feeble attempts to explain what happened. First, there was a denial, then the blaming of Melania, followed by campaign chairman Paul Manafort bizarrely saying the criticism was coming from Hillary Clinton because when she “is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Trump surrogates said the copycat words were only 7% of the speech, and a top GOP official tried to toss it off by saying there were other sentences similar to lines in the children’s book “My Little Pony,” and no one was upset by that. Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign manager, who was canned after a falling out with Manafort, said the current chair should resign.
This is not how the game is played in the big leagues.