Déjà vu? Did Melania Trump's speech take a page from Michelle Obama?(Read article summary)
Melania Trump's speech at the RNC was suspiciously similar to the one given by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008, a mistake indicative of larger disorganization within the Trump campaign.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
On Monday night, viewers across the country may have experienced déjà vu as Melania Trump delivered her speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland – a speech noticeably similar to the one given by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention eight years ago.
Soon after, the internet blew up with accusations of plagiarism, with many wondering how exactly such a thing could have happened. In an interview taped prior to the event, Ms. Trump told TODAY's Matt Lauer that she wrote the speech "with as little help as possible," and Trump aides reportedly declined to identify which staffers offered assistance.
Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort denied the plagiarism accusations in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, saying, "To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd."
But in an election year where absurdity has become the norm, analysts say the messy situation reflects an ongoing disorganization within the Trump campaign.
In June, anonymous Trump aides described to NBC News a campaign struggling to meet general election standards. "Republicans working to elect Trump describe a bare-bones effort debilitated by infighting, a lack of staff to carry out basic functions, minimal coordination with allies and a message that's prisoner to Trump's momentary whims," reported NBC's Benjy Sarlin, Katy Tur, and Ali Vitali.
More light was shed on this "bare-bones effort" weeks later, when Federal Election Commission filings showed that Mr. Trump raised only $3.1 million in May, putting him far behind presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who raised $27 million. As The Christian Science Monitor's Aidan Quigley reported at the time:
Generally, in the months after becoming the nominee, candidates see 'floods' of cash, Michael Malbin, a professor of political science at the University of Albany, tells the Monitor. Professor Malbin says Trump's financial position points to a lack of organization, which is crucial in raising money. Most general election candidates spend the year before the general election getting fundraising operations up to speed, which Trump hasn't done.
That same day, Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, prompting some to wonder whether the campaign would be able to make a quick turnaround with new strategies.
"Lewandowski exit suggests Trump realizes campaign has imploded," tweeted NBC's Mr. Sarlin after the announcement. "Question is whether Manafort can quickly rebuild, esp before convention."
Now, nearly a month after Mr. Lewandowski left, political analysts say there have been few signs of improvement, which could point to trouble for Trump in the general election.
"If there was some hope among Republicans that the firing of controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski would lead to a professionalization of the Trump campaign, that hasn't come to bear," writes Ben Geier for Fortune. "Trump's eschewing of political norms may have helped win votes in the Republican primary, but it could hurt him when going up against a well-funded and well-organized candidate like Hillary Clinton."
Many viewed the Republican National Convention, which kicked off Monday in Cleveland, as a potential pivot point in which Trump could prove his own credibility.
"Donald Trump won't have a better opportunity other than this coming week to demonstrate to the American public that he can be the president," Republican media consultant Bruce Haynes of Purple Strategies told The Christian Science Monitor's Linda Feldmann earlier this week. "If he can execute a glitch-free four-day convention where people come away with a feeling that he's competent, he has a message, and a vision for the future of the country that works for people, then he will have succeeded."
Whether Ms. Trump's speech is a big-enough "glitch" to hamper this effort remains to be seen.
In a statement released early Tuesday morning, campaign spokesman Jason Miller praised the speech, calling it a "success."
"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," Mr. Miller said. "Melania's immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success."