U.S. Election 2016

It’s not just Melania: Trump, Obama and Biden were alleged plagiarists

A brief video gallery history of recent plagiarism accusations in presidential politics

Melania Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention. (Photograph by Scott Feschuk)

Melania Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention. (Photograph by Scott Feschuk)

When Melania Trump described for the Republican National Convention her own upbringing, and desire to leave the world a better place for her children, she used many of the same words in Michelle Obama’s 2008 address to the Democratic National Convention. The Trump campaign denies it copied Michelle Obama’s speech, but the similarities are pretty striking—and there are already dozens of mash-ups illustrating the similarities. It’s not just Melania, though. American politics has had its fair share of plagiarism accusations over the years. Here are some of the more famous ones, as captured on video.

2016: Melania Trump and Michelle Obama

The Trump campaign is doubling down in its defence of Melania. It’s now said that no one on the campaign will be fired for what happened.

2016: Donald Trump and Ben Carson

In March, Donald Trump was accused of copying much of an op-ed by former Republican contender Ben Carson. Carson wasn’t too fussed about it: “It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said.

2013: Rand Paul and Wikipedia

In October 2013, Rand Paul was accused by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow of taking sections of one of his speeches from a Wikipedia article. Paul was a presidential hopeful at the time; he later ran unsuccessfully against Donald Trump in 2016.

2008: Deval Patrick and Barack Obama

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of copying words from his friend, then-Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. Obama later said that Patrick suggested he used the lines, but he should have credited him. Patrick said he wasn’t bothered by Obama’s failure to credit him and maintained the criticisms were unfair.

1987: Joe Biden and Neil Kinnock

When Joe Biden was running for president in 1987, he stood accused of copying then-United Kingdom Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. The accusations were a huge embarrassment to Biden, and he suspended his campaign shortly thereafter.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.