In Cleveland, Trump’s Wife Tries to Soften His Image

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Zacheaus Somorin with agency reports

Donald Trump’s wife Melania, in her first major political speech on Monday, tried to soften her husband’s image by portraying him as a talented, compassionate and unrelenting leader who would unify rather than divide the country if elected to the White House.

According to CNN, the Slovenian-born jewelry designer and former model delivered the speech, part of which strongly resembled an address given by current First Lady Michelle Obama in 2008, to a cheering crowd at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland after a one-minute introduction from Trump.

The presumptive Republican nominee made a dramatic entrance, silhouetted against a white background, to the accompaniment of Queen’s 1977 rock anthem, “We Are the Champions.” “I have been with Donald for 18 years and I have been aware of his love for this country since we first met,” the aspiring first lady told the convention. “He’s tough when he has to be, but he’s also kind and fair and caring.”

“Donald wants prosperity for all Americans,” she said, reading from a teleprompter, as people applauded. Her roughly 15-minute speech was a bid to soften the image of the New York businessman-turned-politician, who has been accused of bigotry and callousness for his calls to suspend Muslim immigration and deport millions of undocumented immigrants if elected. He has also been criticized for insults directed at women, political opponents and journalists.

Part of the text referring to the values held by her family was strikingly similar to a section of Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention in 2008. A Trump campaign official suggested the similarity was the result of an error by her speech writers. “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,” Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications advisor, said in a statement.

Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has accused Trump, 70, of lacking the experience and temperament needed to work in the Oval Office. On Monday, Clinton, 68, used an address to a largely black audience to cast Trump as someone who would divide the country along racial, ethnic and religious lines.

The convention’s opening night featured a string of emotional speakers attacking Clinton’s record as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, many arguing she had made Americans vulnerable to Islamist militancy. “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” said Pat Smith, the mother of an information management officer who was among the four Americans killed in an attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose administration has been credited with sharply reducing crime in the city during the 1990s and who oversaw the city’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and killed almost 3,000 people, gave a highly charged speech slamming Clinton and making the case for Trump.

“What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America!” he said. The convention erupted in chaos earlier when Trump opponents inside his party stormed out of the room and others chanted, in a failed attempt to force a vote opposing his candidacy. The turmoil threatened efforts by the Trump campaign to show the party had united behind him and distracted from the day’s theme of “Make America Safe Again”.