CLEVELAND: Donald Trump’s presidential campaign came under withering scrutiny Tuesday, after a nightmare start to the Republican convention capped by an embarrassing plagiarism controversy that tarnished his wife Melania’s prime-time speech.
After an opening day in Cleveland that was marred by a vocal and very public rank-and-file revolt by anti-Trump delegates, Melania’s address was meant to get the show back on track.
The conventions are designed to champion the party candidate, rally the grassroots and propel the party toward November’s election.
With millions watching on television, the Slovenia-born former model delivered an eloquent and seemingly heartfelt defense of her husband.
“Donald is, and always has been, an amazing leader,” said the 46-year-old. “Now, he will go to work for you.”
But there were unmistakable similarities between her remarks and a speech given by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic convention.
While the controversy burned for 12 hours and social media erupted with mocking commentary, the Trump campaign appeared paralyzed.
Denials of wrongdoing, followed by tacit admissions, followed by attempts to insulate Melania only added to the picture of a campaign in chaos.
Campaign chair Paul Manafort described the whole kerfuffle as “absurd,” and Trump’s supporters seemed unperturbed.
“There’s just a passion for Donald, and his wife knocked it out of the park,” said Robert Antonacci of the New York delegation.
“Who cares? It was her speech. I don’t believe for a minute that Melania and Donald were sitting around going, ‘Hey, let’s plagiarize Michelle Obama’s speech’.”
– ‘Very proud’ Trump –
Trump himself was ultimately forced to come out in his wife’s defense.
“It was truly an honor to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanor were absolutely incredible. Very proud!” he tweeted.
It was truly an honor to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanor were absolutely incredible. Very proud! #GOPConvention
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2016