Per tradition, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, addressed the Republican National Convention on its opening night, Monday, 18 July 2016, delivering a thoughtful and seemingly heartfelt speech that was enthusiastically received by convention-goers.
Parts of the speech rang familiar to listeners around the country, however, especially to those who had cherished Michelle Obama’s address at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Political speeches typically incorporate standard sets of ideas, promises, and platitudes, but much of Melania Trump’s address seemed to be identical to Michelle Obama’s, not just in content but also in its specific phrasing.
Los Angeles interior designer and journalist Jarrett Hill decided to go public with this realization in a tweet he sent out at 6:40 p.m.:
— Jarrett Hill (@JarrettHill) July 19, 2016
And the game was on. Tracking down matching phrases from the two speeches became the Internet fad of the hour. Here, featuring the most similar wordings in bold, are the relevant passages in each address:
Melania Trump, 2016:
I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then communist country in Central Europe. My sister Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hard-working mother Amalia introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father Viktor instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflect to this day on me and for my love of family and America.
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 thought and showed me values and morals in their daily life. That is a 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.
Michelle Obama, 2008:
And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life;that your word is your bond; that 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 to pass them onto 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 hard for them.
A New York Times video compares the matching portions of the speeches:
“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.”
— Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor
On 20 July 2016, Trump in-house speechwriter Meredith McIver issued an apology admitting culpability for the inclusion of unattributed quotes from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech in Melania Trump’s 2016 speech. McIver said she offered her resignation to the Trump campaign, but it was not accepted.