A plagiarism playbook for the Trump campaign

Melania Trump’s remarks at the RNC convention in Cleveland were, by all accounts, warm, compelling and genuine. Until they weren’t.

In a matter of hours, the Internet uncovered evidence of plagiarism — with Melania allegedly lifting words from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech (video below). Politics aside, this just doesn’t pass the small test, even in the eyes of independent sources.

Make no mistake: this was a big dust-up on one of the most important stages imaginable,  compounded by the fact that Melania has largely remained behind the scenes up to now. Fortunately, there’s time to salvage some goodwill in the public’s eye.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for how the Trump campaign can get ahead of the crisis and avoid having the RNC convention overshadowed by this story for the next three days:

  1. Acknowledge that the damage is done internally and begin playing clean-up. Your campaign’s insistence on defending Mrs. Trump’s error is only perpetuating the story.
  2. Come to terms with the fact that an apology is in order, and begin working on a statement. People are forgiving, but they want to hear the words “I’m sorry.”
  3. In the meantime, the person (or persons) responsible for writing and approving Mrs. Trump’s speech should be terminated. Leak this news to the press; it’ll send the message that the campaign is decisive and taking action.
  4. Melania should call Michelle Obama to personally apologize. This may sound like a scene out of “Mean Girls,” but owning responsibility is half the battle. If this goes well, you might even muster a favorable response from Michelle.
  5. Lastly, release a public apology clarifying that this was a careless lapse in judgment on Melania’s behalf. The statement should ask the public to judge Melania’s speech in full, rather than focusing on the few lines in question.