US Election 2016

Melania Trump a hit with delegates but plagiarism row gets headlines

Melania Trump Image copyright Reuters
Image caption One delegate said Mrs Trump could be her husband's "secret weapon"

It seemed to go so well for Melania Trump.

Delivering the headline speech on the first day of the US Republican Party convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Donald Trump's third wife had delegates on their feet at the start and cheering wildly in approval by the end.

America's potential next First Lady impressed many inside the packed arena by describing her upbringing and family values with confidence and composure, despite rarely having commented publicly.

But hours later, as her words spread on social media, attention turned to the authenticity of her speech - and to the words of another aspiring First Lady, Michelle Obama.

It emerged that sections of Melania Trump's speech were alarmingly similar to those of Mrs Obama who spoke in support of her husband at the Democratic Party convention in 2008.

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Media captionDid Melania Trump's speech copy Michelle Obama's?

A statement from Donald Trump's campaign in the early hours of Tuesday did not deny allegations of plagiarism, but rather said Mrs Trump's team of writers "took notes on her life's inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking".

That a great deal of time, effort and assistance had gone into Melania Trump's presentation was no secret.

The former model, originally from Slovenia, was rarely heard from during her husband's primaries campaign, more often ceding the limelight to his children and especially his daughter Ivanka.

But Monday's speech was seen as her formal introduction to the very people who will, days later, confirm her New York billionaire husband as Republican Party candidate for the US elections in November.

Image caption Kathy Petsas described Mrs Trump as "poised"

She described her love of fashion, business, and family - as well as setting out her case for Mr Trump to be president. Her audience lapped up every drop of romance. When she spoke about falling in love with him 18 years ago, a man several rows back yelled "Yeah!"

Kathy Petsas, a delegate from Arizona, said she had been surprised at how "poised" Mrs Trump appeared on stage, and how "strong" and "natural" she was was despite reading from an autocue. "I actually think she could be Trump's secret weapon," she added.

Meanwhile, Matt Hall, a delegate from Michigan, went as far as to say it was the best convention speech he had ever seen. "She showed Mr Trump has a softer side."

Melania's message of love, support, and unity was certainly a contrast to previous speeches during the evening, grouped under the theme Make America Safe Again.

Image caption Matt Hall said the speech showed Mrs Trump "had a softer side"

The programme featured Pat Smith, the mother of a state department employee killed in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, the handling of which sparked intense criticism of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential hopeful who was secretary of state at the time.

Also included were the parents of a border patrol agent who died protecting the US border with Mexico, and a man killed in California by a gang member in the US illegally.

Mrs Trump's speech stood out for another reason too. Her husband had been mocked days earlier for interrupting Mike Pence and dominating the announcement of the Indiana governor as his running mate. But Mr Trump spoke at the podium for less than 30 seconds before handing over to his wife on Monday evening.

What Republican delegates will make of the associations with Michelle and Barack Obama - so vehemently hated by so many Trump supporters - will undoubtedly feature in discussions over the coming days in Cleveland.

But then Trump's supporters are now so accustomed to defending their man from accusations in the media, they could still put this all down to another conspiracy against him.