Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, speaks on Day One of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, her first major speech of the campaign. Her husband, Donald Trump, will formally accept the Republican Party's nomination for president on Thursday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
CLEVELAND, July 18 (UPI) -- Melania Trump starred on the opening night of the Republican convention, offering a speech that bore nearly identical language to one given by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008, drawing questions of plagiarism.
The speech marked a coming out party of sorts for the candidate's wife, who has done a handful of television interviews, but has only spoken briefly on the campaign trail and never to an audience anywhere close to as large as the millions watching on televisions across the country in prime time Monday night.
The delivery was well received by delegates inside Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, but an hour later journalists on Twitter had pointed out two passages that bore almost identical language to Michelle Obama's speech.
Here are the two passages, with identical or nearly identical language underlined:
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 to 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."
Trump said: "From a young age my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life. That your work is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. They taught 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."
The Trump campaign had not responded to the plagiarism questions as of early Tuesday.
Donald Trump broke with tradition by addressing the convention prior to his acceptance speech. Though he only offered a two line introduction, his entrance had much of the flair that has defined his campaign to date. He stood in front of a white screen in silhouette as stage smoke puffed around him for several seconds.
He introduced Melania Trump as "an amazing wife, an incredible woman" and appeared again at the conclusion, kissing her on the cheek and offering congratulations on her address.
Melania Trump sought to portray her husband as a loving father and determined businessman whose love of country would bring all Americans together.
"Donald is intensely loyal to family, friends, employees, country," she said. "There is a great deal of love in the Trump family. That is our bond and our strength."
She also said his persistence in pursuing business deals was an indication of what kind of president he would be.
"No room for small thinking. No room for small results. Donald gets things done. Our country is underperforming and needs new leadership," she said. "Everyone wants change. Donald is the only one who can deliver it. We should not be satisfied with stagnation."
While offering herself as a personal validator for her husband, Melania Trump was also introducing herself to an American public that has frequently seen the former fashion model and naturalized citizen at her husband's side, but who has rarely been heard from during the campaign. Trump's children, particularly his eldest daughter Ivanka, have turned into the family's top surrogates to date.
Auditioning for the role of first lady, Melania Trump said she would bring a focus on issues pertaining to women and children to the White House.
"We need new programs to help the poor and opportunities to challenge the young," she said. "You judge society by how it treats its citizens. We must do our best to ensure every child can live in comfort and security with the best possible education."
Melania Trump was born in what was then the communist European nation of Slovenia and later moved to Milan, Italy, where she worked as a fashion model. She is a naturalized citizen who emigrated to New York City as a fashion model in the 1980s. She became a citizen in 1996.
She is Trump's third wife and mother to his youngest child, Baron, 10.
In the line that drew the loudest applause from delegates, she pledged her husband would bring the country together.
"Donald intends to represent all the people not just some of the people," she said. "That includes Christians and Jews and Muslims. It includes Hispanics and African Americans and Asians and the poor and the middle class."