Controversy over Mrs Trump's speech

Mr and Mrs Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Parts of Mrs Trump's speech had allegedly been plagiarised from a 2008 speech by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Mr and Mrs Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Parts of Mrs Trump's speech had allegedly been plagiarised from a 2008 speech by First Lady Michelle Obama.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mrs Melania Trump, 46, made her most significant speech to date in support of her husband, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, portraying him as a caring man who would fight tirelessly for the American people.

While it was well received by the thousands attending the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, it was not without controversy.

Soon after it was delivered, it emerged that at least three parts had allegedly been plagiarised from the speech First Lady Michelle Obama delivered at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

One example is the portion of the speech that touched on Mrs Trump's upbringing.

The Slovenian-born former model said: "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."

In 2008, Mrs Obama had said: "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."

Mr Trump, who had introduced his wife at the convention, later tweeted: "It was truly an honour to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanour were absolutely incredible. Very proud!"

A senior Trump communications adviser said in a statement that Mrs Trump's team of writers "in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking".

However, Mr Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's campaign chief, dismissed the accusations. "I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy," he said on CNN.

In her speech, Mrs Trump described her husband as tough, but also kind, fair and loyal, and played up his role as a family man.

"I'm happy she presented a softer side to him," said retired nurse Pam McAloon, 59, who believes that more women will soon change their minds about Mr Trump, who has high unfavourability ratings among female voters.

Mrs Trump, who is Mr Trump's third wife, also talked about what she would be like as a first lady.

"It is kindness, love and compassion for each other that will bring us together and keep us together. These are the values that I will bring to the White House," said Mrs Trump.

Mrs Linda Halle, 63, who is in the construction business, said Mrs Trump's poise reminded her of former first lady Jackie Kennedy.

"She was energetic and personal and told us more about Donald Trump. I think she is somebody who would make a great first lady," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Controversy over Mrs Trump's speech'. Print Edition | Subscribe