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Melania Trump on convention speech: 'I wrote it with as little help as possible'

Melania Trump spoke about her preparation for her controversial speech at the Republican Convention in an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer.
/ Source: TODAY

Hours before giving a speech at the Republican National Convention that has drawn charges of plagiarism, Melania Trump told TODAY she penned the address herself with very little help.

"I read it once over, and that's all because I wrote it with as little help as possible,'' she told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview on Monday.

Melania Trump drew questions about several passages from her speech in Cleveland that were strikingly similar to ones from Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention.

"From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values 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,'' Trump said in her speech.

In 2008, Obama said: "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."

Melania Trump
Melania Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday night.ROBYN BECK / AFP - Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath, Trump's campaign did not respond to questions of plagiarism, releasing a statement saying, "Melania's team of writers took notes on her life's inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking."

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Trump praised his wife but also did not comment on the controversy.

Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Obama, accused the Trump campaign of plagiarism.

In another portion of her speech, Trump said, "Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."

That echoed a line from Obama's speech almost verbatim.

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"Because we want our children and all children in this nation to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them."

Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort addressed the controversy on CNN Tuesday morning, saying, "There's no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech."

"These were common words and values — that she cares about her family," he said.

Donald Trump also spoke with Lauer about Ohio governor and former GOP candidate John Kasich avoiding the convention, the violence around the country involving police and a group of anti-Trump delegates who walked off the convention floor after calling for a roll call vote to change party rules.

On Monday, Manafort called Kasich "petulant" and said he was "embarrassing his party" for refusing to support Trump at the convention.

"Honestly, he got beaten so badly, I won I guess 37 states, and he won one, honestly if I got beaten that badly, I wouldn't show up either so it's fine,'' Trump told TODAY.

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As far as a delegation trying to alter the convention's rules to prevent Trump's nomination, he said it's "never gonna happen."

"They really were looking for 2020, some rules changes, and I think the press like to build it up, but it really was about rules changes for 2020,'' he said.

Trump also addressed the tone of the convention during a time in which there have been protests over police shootings as well as police being shot and killed in attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

"It is a convention, after all, and when you say civil, we can't be too civil when you have a situation like Hillary Clinton with all that she's done and all the mistakes that she's made, so they will be brought up,'' Trump said. "But I do think it will be very, very civil."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.