After several lines of Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention last week were found to have been plagiarized from a speech that Michelle Obama gave at the 2008 Democratic convention, some of the Trump campaign’s defenders went to absurd lengths to defend or deny the plagiarism.
Among them was Rachel Campos-Duffy, a spokeswoman for the Koch-funded conservative Latino group Libre Initiative and an RNC speaker, who told the Catholic TV news network EWTN on Thursday that if anyone had plagiarized it was Michelle Obama, because she lifted her 2008 speech from “the opportunity message that has been the platform of the Republican Party.”
In an interview inside the convention hall, EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo asked Campos-Duffy and her husband, Republican Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, about the plagiarism incident.
Sean Duffy responded that it was all the fault of the media, which wanted “to create a controversy out of nothing,” but Campos-Duffy quickly cut in.
“But I’m not sure, I mean, I’m not sure that she plagiarized,” she said. “I mean, when I saw the two speeches together, I thought, wow, Michelle Obama has really plagiarized the opportunity message that has been the platform of the Republican Party.”
When Arroyo pointed out that “they used the same line at some point,” Campos-Duffy responded that it was “pretty generic stuff” and that the media was simply trying to distract from the fact that Melania Trump “looked spectacular.”
Sean Duffy then alleged that Trump has to avoid every “misstep” because the media is being especially critical of him: “But it goes to the point that Donald Trump has to be better. You can’t open yourself up for these kind of attacks because the media will take them, they’ll run with them, and they’ll run over your story and your message. So be better.”
In an interview with TMZ on the day of Melania Trump’s speech, Sean Duffy attempted to deny that there had been any plagiarism at all, saying, “These are common phrases about family and support of family and ideas about our country, so I don’t think they were so unique a phrase that only a Democrat says it, only a Republican, it’s a lot of common themes that a lot of us share.”