Donald Trump with wife Melania
Donald Trump with wife MelaniaShannon Stapleton/Reuters

The opening night address at the 2016 Republican National Convention by Melania Trump, wife of the GOP nominee, received a largely positive reception Monday evening – that is, before striking similarities were discovered between Mrs. Trump’s speech and the one given by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention eight years ago.

Side-by-side comparisons revealed that lines appeared to have been lifted directly from Mrs. Obama’s address in 2008, with few modifications.

For instance, on Monday, Trump spoke of her parents impressing upon her “the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect.”

That was conspicuously similar to what Michelle Obama said eight years earlier when she also spoke regarding how she and her husband had been raised with certain “values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect”.

The apparent plagiarism raised a firestorm and distracted from what was supposed to be an uplifting moment for the Trump campaign.

Instead, the embarrassment provided fresh ammunition for Mr. Trump’s critics, who derided both the candidate and his wife.

On Wednesday, however, the Trump campaign released a formal statement from speechwriter Meredith McIver, who took full responsibility for the address and the plagiarized lines.

McIver said that in preparing the speech, she had asked Mrs. Trump to name people who had inspired her. Among others, Melania Trump mentioned the First Lady, whom she “has always liked”.

Mrs. Trump then read McIver a number of passages from Mrs. Obama over the phone. McIver says she included some of the phrasing provided by Mrs. Trump, and failed to check Michelle Obama’s addresses to see if there were any direct quotations.

“This was my mistake,” wrote McIver, “and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant.”

McIver offered her resignation for the mistake, though it is unclear what actions, if any, the Trump campaign will take.