In the aftermath of last night's snafu involving Melania Trump's address to the RNC, the GOP has a simple message to trump: fire somebody. As the Hill reports citing Republicans gathered in Cleveland on Tuesday, the Trump campaign should take action against whoever is responsible for the similarities between Melania Trump’s address at the GOP convention and Michelle Obama’s convention speech in 2008.
There is a problem: there is confusion about who is responsible, and who wrote the speech.
Previously Melania said she had written most of the speech herself, however that now appears to not be the case. Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on CNN called for his one-time rival Paul Manafort to resign if he was the last person to sign off on Mrs. Trump’s primetime speech. Also earlier, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the speechwriter should probably be fired. And Trump’s presidential rival-turned-surrogate Ben Carson said the author of the speech should have to undergo some kind of media training. Conservative Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a Trump supporter, called the incident “unfortunate” and said whoever wrote the speech should take the fall.
The Trump campaign also has not identified who wrote the roughly 15-minute address.
Meanwhile, Trump allies and campaign members have said the plagiarism allegations are much ado about nothing. As reported earlier, Paul Manafort rejected the section was plagiarized and have made clear that no one would be fired over the incident.
But the growing controversy and seemingly relentless media onslaught has marred what initially had been a well-received speech from Melania Trump, who until Monday night had largely limited her appearances on the campaign trail. Stories about the plagiarism claims dominated news coverage Monday night and Tuesday, stepping on the Trump campaign’s Day One theme of the GOP gathering — law and order — and serving as another unwanted distraction during a pivotal week for the party’s standard-bearer.
“You can’t lift passages,” DeSantis said Tuesday during an interview with The Hill on the convention floor. “It’s not what you want to happen, obviously, so there was a breakdown somewhere. … But you shouldn’t try to say, ‘Oh, who cares.’ You shouldn’t do that. Just be honest with it and say it was a mistake and figure out a way to correct it.”
Priebus tried to downplay the controversy Tuesday morning, calling it a slight “distraction.” Yet the RNC chairman said he would “probably” fire the staffer responsible for the sections of Melania Trump’s speech that appear plagiarized. "I don't blame her," Priebus said at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast with reporters in Cleveland on Tuesday. "Some of these things are pretty common types of themes."
Lewandowski, the former campaign manager who was fired by Trump last month, said that whoever gave the green light for Melania Trump’s speech should resign. He specifically suggested it is Manafort, his replacement, who should take the fall.
“Whoever signed off with the final sign off that allowed this to go forward should be held accountable,” Lewandowski said on CNN, where he is now a paid contributor. He is also chairman of the New Hampshire GOP delegation. “I think if it was Paul Manafort, he would do the right thing and resign,” Lewandowski continued. “If he was the last person who saw this happen and has brought this on the candidate’s wife, I think he would resign because I think that’s the type of person he would be.”
As The Hill summarizes last night's speeches, "Melania’s polished delivery Monday night was sandwiched between fiery addresses from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn. While Giuliani and Flynn played to the base, Melania Trump called for unity in a bid to soften the image of her tough-talking husband. A Slovenian-born immigrant, Melania Trump pledged that her husband “intends to represent all the people, not just some of the people.” She proceeded to tick off a list of groups Trump has alienated during the GOP primary, like Muslims he’s proposed to ban from the country, as well as Hispanics."
Trump surrogates gathered in Cleveland argued that voters weren’t paying much attention to what they view as a fake controversy ginned up by the media.
“It was 15 minutes long and less than a minute was similar to Michelle’s speech so it’s not really an issue with me,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), an early Trump backer, told The Hill. “When talking about loyalty to family, there are only so many ways to say it. Most have already been said by someone.”
The irony in all this, of course, is that until his presidential campaign, Trump was perhaps best known for his levity in dispensing with his signature phrease "you're fired." Maybe this is the one time where it is necessary, although as Trump realizes that would indicate weakness, and admission of fault, something the real estate tycoon is not known for doing. Which is why we expect this largely blown out of proportion scandal to persist at least until the media finds some other headline-grabbing fiasco with which to plug content.
With the second day of the republican convention due to start in just over two hours, it may get just that.