Republican Convention 2016

Cleveland Crowd Blames Donald Trump for Melania Speech Scandal

"It's just like how Trump's campaign is going in general."


Dennis Van Tine/LFI/Photoshot/Newscom

"I support Melania! Get your 'I support Melania' buttons here!" a street vendor named John shouted as he strode down the main corridor outside the Republican National Convention. The enterprising button peddler had made this batch last night, after news broke that a portion of Melania Trump's convention speech almost directly mirrored an earlier speech from Michelle Obama. "I think they'll be a real big hit," he says, "but we'll see." 

On the MSNBC jumbo-screen that towered mid-street, clips of Trump's and Obama's speeches played—interspersed with the punditocracy hashing out every possible angle on the scandal—for a gawking crowd of convention lurkers, some of whom were just hearing the plagiarism allegations for the first time. 

"I thought she did great," says Nancy Drusky, who's from Cleveland. "I thought at first she was going to be a bimbo, but she did wonderful. I didn't hear anything [about plagiarism] until just now."

Drusky and her companion, Kevin Novotny, say they aren't fans of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. They rode their bikes downtown today just to check out the spectacle. The same goes for Cleveland residents Kathy Brown and Maura Nash. "We're not Republicans but we came here to see what it's all about," says Brown. 

On Melania's speech, they note that the story is "everywhere," which Nash thinks is justified. "If they stole from another speech, it should be reported on. Plus, how stupid can you be? I mean, how many millions of people are watching this?" 

Nash thinks pinning it on the speechwriter is pretty lame: "You're responsible for the people you hire. Come on!" 

"But it's so Trump," Brown chimes in, "because he doesn't care. He doesn't care what people think, he's not gonna care about this. So why are [the media] wasting their time on it?" 

Todd Kistner, from Canton, Ohio, also thinks the speech debacle is typical of Donald Trump. Kistner, a political independent who's not a fan of either Trump or Clinton, says he has been looking into Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson but is also looking at Green Party candidate Jill Stein. 

As for Melania's speech, "they should have vetted that speech really well and they didn't," says Kistner. "It's just like how Trump's campaign's is going in general: 'play it by ear, whatever's hot today that's what I'll talk about.' He just hasn't talked about the issues, or given us any solutions to our problems."

NEXT: Reason LIVE from the Republican National Convention: Senator Mike Lee

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  1. Every first lady hires speech writers. She did nothing different from any other first lady. She didn’t intend to plagiarize. The person she hired is clearly the person at fault anyways. #FakeScandal

    1. Indeed. “…they should have vetted that speech really well…”? No. They should have vetted the speechwriter really well. There is no defense against him or her copying things from some other source.

    2. What odds this gets more press coverage and serious, hard-nosed reporting than Hillary Clinton’s email #FakeScandal.

      1. Mathematically impossible given length of time available.

    3. She claimed to have written it. Either she’s a plagiarizer or a liar. And if she’s a liar, meaning a Trump speechwriter is the one who plagiarized, then the Trump campaign is horrible at hiring competent speechwriters.

      Hashtag running the biggest economy in the world is a little harder than this…

      1. Whew good thing she’s not going to be doing anything like that.

  2. We need to put the blame squarely on the party that’s truly responsible for this fiasco: Twilight Sparkle.

  3. “I support Melania! Get your ‘I support Melania’ buttons here!” a street vendor named John shouted

    Oh come on, ENB. Enough trolling.

    1. It wouldn’t be a surprise, though. Aside from the fact that Melania isn’t a big lady.

      1. I initially read that as “bag lady”.

        1. John’ll take bag ladies, too, so long as they’re big.

  4. Standard political speech template:

    Values, hard working Americans, diversity, respect, education, children, achievements, dreams, hope, change, colors, creeds, religion, God, LGBTQ2I, hate, freedom of expression, good jobs for good people, climate change, the future.

    Now just put fill words between those and you’ve covered every major political speech since.. I’ll be conservative and say 1992.

    Oh, speaking of politics and the English language, try this on for size:

    Office of the Mayor
    City of Seattle
    Edward B. Murray, Mayor

    Executive Order 2016-06: An Executive Order establishing public engagement and outreach principles
    and directing the Department of Neighborhoods to lead a citywide effort that results in the timely
    implementation by all City departments of equitable outreach and engagement practices that reaffirm
    the City’s commitment to inclusive participation.

    If anyone here can tell me what in hades any of that means or attempts to accomplish, you’ll have my vote in November.

    1. It says and means nothing. You really have to learn how to communicate like that.

    2. I think it’s essentially “we need more community organizers”…

    3. Zell Miller blew up Matt Welch’s brain with his “all our rights come from the sacrifice of our soldiers”. That was a beautiful speech.

      1. Beautiful and wrong.

        I’m not saying soldiers haven’t ever helped us to defend and maintain rights (to the extent that that has happened). But it sure as fuck isn’t where they come from.

    4. If anyone here can tell me what in hades any of that means or attempts to accomplish, you’ll have my vote in November.

      “Go spend a bunch of money on worthless shit we don’t need.”

  5. So why are [the media] wasting their time on it?

    Why, indeed.

    1. Why does anyone do anything?

      Because they’re stupid, that’s why.

  6. He doesn’t care what people think, he’s not gonna care about this. So why are [the media] wasting their time on it?

    Because this is the thing that will do it. This is the thing that will bring Trump down.

    1. You don’t stop feeling for cracks just because you haven’t found one yet.

  7. Scandal?

    Who besides a small cadre of bloggers gives a dried-fart about it?

    1. Every political journalist. The Republican Party. The writer was fired! Also, this is what happens when they have nothing to talk about.

  8. This is either just a screwup (probably, but that’s no fun)
    A super genius plan. Trump fires up a new scandal by having Melania plagiarize some shit nobody cared about into her own (ish) shit that nobody cares about. What happens?

    Now you’ve got every single media outlet with side-by-side pictures of Melania and The Wooky. It’s ideal trolling. PLUS in 3 months, after everybody forgot what this was about (but remembers clearly that they didn’t care that much), just spin it that the media was mean to your wife and get some women back on board.

    1. Pretty much my take.

      I just don’t see a downside here.

      (a) Coverage of Melania? Plus.

      (b) Comparison to Michelle? Plus.

      (c) Attention diverted from internecine squabbling at convention? Plus.

      (d) Attacks on spouse? Plus.

      (e) Accusations of plagiarism? Neutral. OTOH, its plagiarism, which most people don’t care about. OTOH, it makes the campaign look goofy. OTOH, it lets them respond with all the times Dems have plagiarized.

      1. Yeah. Basically, this is Trump playing 4D chess again. He engineered himself into the headlines, again. And the media still has no fucking idea how much they’re helping him by freaking out about this trivial incident.

  9. I blame Bush.

  10. How is it even a scandal? Mrs. Obama said some generic graduation speech stuff, and so did Mrs. Trump. Seems more like a coincidence.

    1. Not if you compare the relevant passages. As in go a millimeter deep into the story you’re opining about.

      1. fuck off troll.

    2. Acc to an anecdote I read in the last century, Nelson Rockefeller used to tell his speechwriters to fill up the gaps with “the usual BOMFOG” – “the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God.”

      Hy Sheffer came up with that. Mrs T’s speechwriter probably had some canned shinola he inserts and didn’t take the care to compare it to brand X’s swill.

  11. “He just hasn’t talked about the issues, or given us any solutions to our problems.”

    Please oh dear leader, solve our problems for us! Most of our problems need to be fixed by Congress, not some dipshit running for President.

    1. Please oh dear leader, solve our problems for us! Most of our problems need to be fixedwere caused by Congress, not and can’t be fixed by some dipshit running for President.


  12. So why are [the media] wasting their time on it?

    Because they’re not going to cover *Hillary’s* shit — and dead air is a no-no.

  13. Well, I’m thoroughly convinced Todd Kistner is a shiftless douchebag.

    1. Somebody who lives in or around Cleveland should buy Todd a beer and shoot the shit. He may be alright, and J/W will need bodies in Ohio.

  14. Me: Who gives a fuck?

    A: Shitbag partisan hacks that want to avoid how shitty both candidates are.

    Me: Touche!

  15. Elizabeth,

    I really like you. But could you please not rape the word “scandal”? This is not a scandal. The word does or at least used to mean something.

  16. Well the Obamas are OK with some plagiarism. After all they added big time plagiarizer Joe Biden to their ticket, so they can’t be too upset by a bit of copying.

    I’ve been busy today, so I haven’t been able to follow this as closely as the MSM. But is it just those two sentences? Or is there a lot more? Because those two sentences don’t seem like they are all that ground breaking.

    1. That’s it. Two sentences.

      I mean, its not like tens of thousands of official emails or anything.

      Two. Sentences. Of pap so generic it probably uses that stencil “generic” typeface.

  17. They ought to sell We Support Melania T-shirts, with a picture of her bra from that photo shoot on Trump’s plane. 🙂

    Kevin R

  18. We can all agree that if she were ugly and a Democrat this would be the world’s biggest scandal since Benghazi, yes?

    1. 1/10 not even trying

      1. I’ll leave the trying for the “libertarians” who find it necessary to defend Trump and his circus.

        1. I think we can all agree you would regard it as no big deal if a democrat had done that.

    2. Tony, if you’re ugly and a Dem, not even Benghazi is a scandal.

  19. 2 lines from somebody who, from what I understand, is not going to be a policymaker if her husband wins.

    I don’t get it. This has gotten more airplay and ink than when Obama plagiarized Deval Patrick. Biden’s plagiarism — far more extensive — at most kept him from being president. (Vice-president is not a bad consolation prize.) So why is this an issue.

    My guess is the elite are hoping this is what finally sinks Trump. Among his fans, the media witch hunt will make him more popular. And probably drive even more people into his camp.

    1. My guess is the elite are hoping this is what finally sinks Trump.

      This will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. No doubt about it.

  20. Recipe for defeating Trump:

    1) Have the Democratic candidate hide from the media and fail to give a press conference for 220 days and counting. Try not to talk about her at all if you can help it. Talking about our candidate hurts the cause.

    2) Stir up racial fear and suspicion among fence-sitting voters by encouraging minorities to voice their grievances and maybe shoot a cop a day for the rest of the summer.

    3) Heap 24/7 attention on incorrigible, attention-seeking, larger-than-life reality-tv star candidate of opposing party and dissect everything he does, encouraging Americans to see this election as a decisive choice between the established order and upstart, outsider candidate who knows no fear or shame.

    4) Attack candidate’s wife for lifting two lines from Michelle Obama. Split a screen between Obama’s wife and Trump’s wife and encourage viewers to compare the two.

    5) Continue strategy as even the biased right-wing polls continue to move in your favor

    6) Count the days to Judgment Day when Hillary kicks Trump’s ass in the first debate and makes him answer for decades of poor judgment.

    1. Serious question:

      Will there even be debates this year?

      I’m not seeing it. Hillary has everything to lose and practically nothing to gain. Unless she collapses in the polls and needs a Hail Mary, I think she refuses to debate.

      1. I don’t recall she is all that good a debater — even with the home field advantage.

      2. Trump’s the center of a populist storm. If she backs out of the debates, she looks like a frail old woman who’s scared to death of the popular maverick with honest-to-god grassroots support.

        Prediction: HRC comes out swinging in the first debate and rolls around in the mud Biden-style to prevent Trump from doing his thing. Problem is she’s not very good at thinking on her feet and she won’t be able to keep up with Trump without looking like a harridan.

  21. “Cleveland Crowd Blames Donald Trump for Melania Speech Scandal

    ENB should get a job writing headlines for Salon–if she isn’t working for them already.

    Or maybe like an editor-at-large position, where she roams the streets of Cleveland looking for people who blame Trump. “What do you blame Trump for?”

    I mean, c’mon, we all gotta blame Trump for something.

    1. She’s following the Michelle Fields career path to Cali-tarian professional success.

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