Melania at a loss for her own words at the Republican National Committee

Melania Trump brings poise and glamour to billionaire husband Donald Trump’s run for the United States presidency, but the Slovenian-born former model has some explaining to do.

She showed stage presence and polish in a prime-time speech to the Republican National Committee on Monday, captivating a hall full of cheering delegates.

But the golden opportunity to tell the US her story went badly awry after the media noticed striking similarities with a speech by Michelle Obama to the Democratic convention in 2008. Trump swiftly came to her defence, without acknowledging any plagiarism. “It was truly an honour to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanour were absolutely incredible. Very proud!” the billionaire tweeted.

Later, campaign staffer Meredith McIver fell on her sword, accepting responsibility and apologising for the speech scandal. Melania Trump had used the occasion to take some of the rough edges off her combative husband.

“He’s tough when he has to be, but he’s also kind and fair and caring,” she said, describing her husband as “intensely loyal” to family, friends, employees and the country. “If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he’s the guy,” she said.

Born Melanija Knavs in Slovenia — then part of Yugoslavia — to a fashion-industry mother and a car-salesman father, she studied design and architecture before leaving for Milan and Paris to launch her modelling career.

That brought her to the US in 1996, where, two years later, she met Donald Trump. She later became his third wife. On Monday night, she said becoming a US citizen, in 2006, was “the greatest privilege on planet Earth”. Her American experience has certainly been far removed from that of the average immigrant.

Her Twitter account — inactive since Trump declared his candidacy — reflects the privileged lifestyle of a jet-setter travelling between a lavish New York apartment and residences in Florida.

She has tweeted photographs from high-society gatherings and major sporting events, as well as recollections of her red-carpet saunters and charity functions. In each image, Melania appears impeccably dressed.

When Donald and Melania married in January 2005 in Florida, the cost of her Dior dress was estimated at $200 000.

Among the invited celebrities was Hillary Clinton, this year’s likely Democratic presidential nominee. Initially, Melania Trump did not seem to be entirely on board with the idea of her husband launching a White House bid.

He once said Melania Trump would have been content to be the wife of a billionaire businessman and a reality TV star. “She said: ‘We have such a great life. Why do you want to do this?’” Trump told The Washington Post.

She has been largely absent from her husband’s presidential campaign, only rarely speaking on the stump.

But she unwittingly found herself in the eye of the primary storm when an anti-Trump political group unveiled a questionable ad on Facebook that used a photo of her lying naked and handcuffed to a briefcase.

The photograph, taken aboard Trump’s custom-fitted private jet, was part of a shoot for the magazine GQ in 2000, before the couple married. The ad, released just before votes in Arizona and Utah, featured the photo with the words: “Meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.” — AFP

Did Trump’s wife Rickroll the RNC?
Did 1980s pop star Rick Astley make an unwitting cameo appearance in Donald Trump’s wife Melania’s speech at the Republican convention?

It may not be as serious as allegations that her speech plagiarised first lady Michelle Obama, but a number of people are seeing in her lines a reference to Astley’s song Never Gonna Give You Up. She said of her husband on the convention’s opening day on Monday: “He will never, ever give you up. And, most importantly, he will never, ever let you down.” Such sentiments are common in speeches by political spouses but her sentences happen to mimic closely those in the chorus of Astley’s 1987 smash hit.

The song has had an unlikely comeback in recent years as an online meme known as “Rickrolling” in which unsuspecting internet users receive links to the video for Never Gonna Give You Up, with the tidily dressed English singer swaying his hips.

A number of social media users juxtaposed Ashley’s song and Melania Trump’s speech, leading some to become true believers that the aspiring first lady was Rickrolling the convention in Cleveland.

Scrutiny has turned to Melania Trump’s speechwriter after her remarks contained striking similarities to the address by President Barack Obama’s wife Michelle when she addressed the 2008 Democratic convention.

“My truther theory: Melania’s speechwriter slipped in a Rickroll to let us know they were tanking it on purpose,” New York hip-hop radio host Jay Smooth tweeted.

Others felt some immediate effects from the online story. Ireland-based Twitter user @brassafrax wrote: “I’ve had Rick Astley stuck in my head all day. Thanks a bunch, Melania Trump.”

Never Gonna Give You Up has been watched more than 224-million times on YouTube, an extremely high number for a song that is nearly 30 years old. — AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Western Cape Judge Mushtak Parker faces second misconduct complaint

The Cape Bar Council says his conduct is ‘unbecoming the holding of judicial office’

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories