Melania Trump: 'Our Country Is Underperforming'

Susan Jones | July 19, 2016 | 6:33am EDT
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Melania Trump, wife of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, speaks during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Update:  Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort told CNN Tuesday morning "there was no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech." He said Melania Trump was using "common words" to show she cares about her family. "I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. The thought that she would be cribbing Michele Obama's words is crazy. This is once again an example of how when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she tries to demean her and take her down. It's not going to work.")

( - In her well-received speech to the Republican National Convention Monday night, Melania Trump promised that the presidential race "will be hard fought all the way to November. There will be good times and hard times and unexpected turns. It would not be a Trump contest without excitement and drama," she added with a smile.

The drama exploded shortly after Mrs. Trump left the stage, as accusations of plagiarism swirled around two passages in her speech, copied almost word for word from a speech delivered to the Democratic National Convention in 2008 by Michelle Obama.

Those similarities, played side-by-side on televisions across America on Tuesday morning, are noted below.

But the heart of Melania's speech centered on her husband's love of family and country -- and how he will deliver the change that he says the country needs.

"Yes, Donald thinks big, which is especially important when considering the presidency of the United States," Melania Trump told convention-goers. "No room for small thinking. No room for small results. Donald gets things done. Our country is underperforming and needs new leadership. Leadership is also what the world needs. Donald wants our country to move forward in the most positive of ways.

"Everyone wants change,” she continued. “Donald is the only one who can deliver it. We should not be satisfied with stagnation. Donald wants prosperity for all Americans. We need new programs to help the poor and opportunities to challenge the young."

Melania said her husband offers a "new direction," and she said he intends to represent all people of every race, religion and background.

On a personal note, Melania said as first lady, she would "use that wonderful privilege to try to help people in our country who need it the most. One of the many causes dear to my heart is helping children and women. You judge society by how it treats its citizens. We must do our best to assure that every child can live in comfort and security with the best possible education."

The Tuesday morning headlines focused on two passages in Melania's speech, delivered near the beginning, when she talked about values:

"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 taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life."

In Michelle Obama's 2008 speech in Denver, she said: "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."

In the second passage, Melania Trump talked about the lesson she wanted to pass on to her 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."

In 2008, Michelle Obama said, "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."

Trump's campaign responded later, issuing a statement that said Melania's "immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech."

"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," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said.

However, earlier in the day, Melania told NBC's Matt Lauer that she wrote most of the speech herself. "I wrote it and I used as little help as possible," she said.

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