When Republican delegates went to bed after a long day Monday night, everyone was buzzing about how Melania Trump had aced her big test. By this morning, no one here wanted to talk about it.
The country was not quite sure what to expect from Donald Trump’s wife in her prime-time convention debut. But as delegates filed out of the Quicken Loans arena around 11 p.m. (leaving a near-empty hall for Michael Flynn and Joni Ernst), they were gushing about how the Slovenia-born model had nailed it. Her testimony about her husband and his values seemed heartfelt, her words simple but sincere.
Then it was discovered that passages from her speech were identical or nearly identical to Michelle Obama’s in 2008. Parts of the speech had been plagiarized, it appeared. Though the Trump campaign said the speech “in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” the fault seems to lie with her speechwriters, not with her.
Michelle Obama, for example, had talked about learning “that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say…” Melania Trump uttered the precise same words Monday night.
And so instead of basking in Melania’s poise, delegates this morning had moved on to other topics, such as how there is supposedly great unity in the party, no matter what you saw with your own eyes during Monday’s floor fight. And the national storyline today is not how to Make America Work Again but whether a speechwriter in the Trump campaign will be fired before lunch.
“It oughta been a great morning for Trump,” said N.C. delegate Jeff Lominac, from Catawba County. “They ought to own up to the mistake and move on. But that’s the one thing Trump won’t do – own up to a mistake.”
He’s right about that. How many times has the Trump campaign made a gaffe that most everyone in the nation recognizes and that drives the narrative for the day instead of allowing Republicans to focus on a positive message or, at least, the shortcomings of Hillary Clinton?
No delegate or party official was eager to talk about Melania’s speech this morning , though under normal circumstances it might have been the overriding focus. Asked about it, U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger brushed off the notion that the speech was plagiarized.
“I really believe she was speaking from her heart and how much she appreciates this country,” Pittenger said. “I do believe the lady is very sincere in her love for America.”
No doubt. But that’s getting lost in the noise created by a colossal Trump campaign blunder.