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Manafort defends Melania Trump's convention speech after plagiarism charges

Manafort defends Melania Trump
Manafort defends Melania Trump 04:39

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chair and convention manager, joined "CBS This Morning" just hours after the conclusion of the Republican National Convention's first night in Cleveland to discuss what was billed as the program's crowning moment: Melania Trump's speech about her husband.

"Her speech last night was a very pointed presentation of the person she knew and really of her coming to America," Manafort said Tuesday morning. "That's what we should be talking about because that was the message. That was the message of 99.9 percent of the speech."

Trump's heartfelt address drew rousing applause on the floor of the convention. But on social media, one touching passage in the speech -- nearly 60 words -- drew intense scrutiny for its similarities to another address by a potential first lady: Michelle Obama's, from the Democratic convention in 2008.

For example, Trump said Monday night: "My parents impressed on me the value of that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect."

Melania Trump's speech 02:39

In 2008, Obama said this of her parents: "Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect."

But Manafort pushed back on the charges of plagiarism to "CBS This Morning," saying the speech contained "not that many similarities."

"They're a couple of phrases. It's basically three places in the speech and its fragments of words," he said. "She knew what she was doing. And she never cribbed from another speech without acknowledging that she was quoting somebody else."

"We're talking about words like compassion, love of family, respect," Manafort added. "These are not words that are unique words, that belong to the Obamas."

Asked if the speech was vetted by any campaign officials, Manafort said: "Sure, people looked at the speech, but frankly, this was her vision of what she wanted to communicate about her husband."

Trump told NBC News in an interview just before her Monday night convention appearance that she had written the speech herself. But Manafort later acknowledged that it was, in fact, "a collaboration" with speechwriters.

When pressed if Trump would be firing anyone over the blunder, Manafort said, "I don't think Donald Trump feels that there's anything to fire someone about."

Manafort also weighed in on a Charlie Rose interview with Hillary Clinton that aired Monday night, where the former secretary of state blasted Trump as the most dangerous person to ever run for the White House.

"I find it ironic that the woman who has destabilized the world during her term as secretary of state and allowed the rise of ISIS can be calling Donald Trump dangerous," he said. "The world is dangerous today because of her failed policies and because of what she and Obama did."

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