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Column: Glamorous Melania trips up on stolen words

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(David Horsey / Los Angeles Times)

Melania Trump seems like the creation of a Hollywood screenwriter because, until this year, only in a movie or TV show would anyone imagine portraying a possible first lady as a gorgeous, foreign-born fashion model.

Yet, there she was on Monday night in stiletto heels and a spectacular white dress with fashion-forward puffy sleeves giving a speech on behalf of her husband at the Republican National Convention where he will be nominated for president of the United States.

Melania is a stunningly beautiful woman and, at the end of her speech, when Donald Trump came out to congratulate her, he looked out to the crowd, pointed at his spouse and gave a thumbs up. It was a signal that could be read two ways. One: didn’t my wife do a super job? Or two: she’s mine, guys, spectacular proof that I’m the alpha male in this arena.

Republican men probably had a special appreciation for Melania Trump's convention speech.
Republican men probably had a special appreciation for Melania Trump’s convention speech.
(David Horsey / Los Angeles Times )

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It would have been a fine moment for the Trump campaign, except for one thing. Within minutes, someone somewhere had done a comparison between Melania’s speech and the one given by Michelle Obama at the Democratic Convention in 2008 and found several nearly identical phrases. Suddenly, no one on cable news or inside the convention’s vast media center was talking about Mrs. Trump’s dress or her exotic eyes or her Eastern European accent; everyone was talking about plagiarism.

Even though Melania had said she wrote as much of her speech as she could by herself, the assumption was that a hired speechwriter had gotten sloppy and should be fired. Would Trump admit the mistake or would he deny the obvious facts, as he almost invariably does, and blame the media for even suggesting his wife had mouthed the words of the current first lady?

An initial statement from the Trump communications office took an evasive middle ground: “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.” That is a nice attempt at a spin, but the phrases borrowed from Mrs. Obama were more than fragments.

Not that this will matter to convention delegates. Many of them have been walking around the streets of this city sporting buttons that read, “Don’t believe the liberal news media!” They know who to blame for this little brouhaha, and it ain’t a speechwriter or the glamorous wife of their candidate.

David.Horsey@latimes.com

Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter

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