Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold on Tuesday acknowledged that Melania Trump “borrowed” some language in her speech at the Republican national convention, but dismissed the plagiarism accusations as a mother merely passing on advice all parents tell their children.
“I think it’s been blown a little bit out of proportion,” Farenthold said at a McClatchy-sponsored breakfast on the second day of the convention.
At least one passage in Melania Trump’s speech Monday repeated future first lady Michelle Obama’s address, nearly word for word, to the Democratic national convention in Denver in 2008.
The controversy quickly overshadowed her speech, which was initially well received in Cleveland and across the nation. Donald Trump’s campaign downplayed the allegations, but Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebus said Trump’s speechwriter “probably” should be fired.
Farenthold said he, too, has borrowed language for his speeches before, though he usually asks permission. He praised the address, saying it reflected lessons parents give their children.
“We all want to raise our children well,” he told McClatchy politics editor Steve Thomma, who interviewed Farenthold.
Farenthold, who didn’t endorse Donald Trump until July 7 after supporting fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz, said the magic of Donald Trump is that he speaks from the heart.
He criticized President Barack Obama for failing to reach out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, while praising Donald Trump for already visiting House Republicans on Capitol Hill once. “He’s willing to listen,” he said. “That’s such a refreshing change for know-it-all Democrats.”
Farenthold said Republicans lost the last presidential election with Mitt Romney on the top of the ticket because not all party activists embraced him.
“There were a group of Republicans who said he’s not good enough,” he said. “There is no Republican out there who wants a Hillary Clinton presidency.”
He said he has urged Republicans to look beyond any of Trump’s potential problems and applaud how he has energized voters who aren’t normally involved in politics.
“I'm not going to sell Donald Trump short,” he said. “I think the American people saw something in him.”
Farenthold said he thinks Clinton should be prosecuted for mishandling of classified information on her private computer server while she was secretary of state.
“I’m very frustrated by the fact that she has walked on these allegations,” he said. “Anyone else would have lost their security clearance and maybe in jail.”
After a yearlong investigation, the FBI announced earlier this month that Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” but recommended no charges.
“One rule applies for everyone else, and one rule applies for Hillary Clinton types,” he said.
McClatchy, which has 29 newspapers and websites across the nation, hosted a conversation with Farenthold and a roundtable with three journalists: Julie Mason, host of Press Pool on Sirius XM; David Siders, political correspondent for the Sacramento Bee; and Lesley Clark, White House Correspondent in McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.