The first lady's 2016 speech at the RNC used some nearly identical sentences as Michelle Obama's 2008 remarks at the Democratic National Convention

By Sean Neumann
August 25, 2020 05:35 PM
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Melania Trump International Women of Courage
First Lady Melania Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

First Lady Melania Trump is set to speak from the newly renovated White House Rose Garden on Tuesday, the second night of the mostly remote Republican National Convention, with President Donald Trump watching in the audience.

CNN reports that the White House said Mrs. Trump, 50, will deliver one of the longest speeches of her tenure as first lady, in contrast with previous appearances that more often average around five minutes.

Mrs. Trump's spokeswoman told CNN that the first lady's closing remarks on Tuesday night would be one of the longer speeches of her time in office.

The spokeswoman described the speech as "positive and uplifting" and "very forward-looking," according to CNN.

Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway promised much the same, telling reporters on Monday: "The first lady’s speech is amazing. It’s the highlight of the week."

Both CNN and The New York Times reported that the speech had not been vetted by the president's office.

Mrs. Trump will be returning to the RNC four years after controversy.

The first lady's 2016 speech at the RNC was widely criticized as a plagiarizing former First Lady Michelle Obama's 2008 speech from the Democratic National Convention — using some nearly identical sentences.

President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump take the field before the College Football National Championship between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA NCAA Football CFP National Championship Clemson vs LSU, New Orleans, USA - 13 Jan 2020
From left: First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump in January
| Credit: Jonathan Mailhes/CSM/Shutterstock

Meredith McIver, who had worked on the speech, explained then that in a phone call Mrs. Trump read “passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples” of inspiration for her own address. “I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. … I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches,” McIver said at the time.

She continued: "This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama. No harm was meant."

Speechwriter Sarah Hurwitz, who helped write for Obama's 2008 DNC speech, told PEOPLE last year that her first reaction upon hearing Mrs. Trump's speech was. “Oh. God.”

“Making that kind of mistake is every speechwriter’s worst nightmare,” Hurwitz said then.

President Trump is expected to accept the Republican Party's re-nomination on Thursday before a fireworks display near the Washington Monument.

The first lady's spokeswoman did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment on Tuesday.