The Latest: White House mum on Melania Trump speech hubbub

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on the Republican National Convention (all times EDT):

1:38 p.m.

The White House is staying out of the debate over similarities between Melania Trump’s GOP convention speech and Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic convention.

Spokesman Josh Earnest says Mrs. Obama received an enthusiastic reception and strong reviews back then because of the speech, her life story and the values of integrity and hard work that she and the president try to instill in their kids.

Earnest says what matters most is the agenda being put forward to advance those values. He says voters will decide in November whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to instill those values in the next generation.

Trump’s campaign has dismissed as “just absurd” criticism that two passages in Melania Trump’s speech were lifted nearly word-for-word from Mrs. Obama.


1:35 p.m.

At least two of Donald Trump’s children have done sound checks in the convention hall ahead of their father’s all-but-certain nomination Tuesday night.

Tiffany Trump said, “Hello,” and counted off, “one, two, three, four” into the microphone. Donald Trump, Jr., said, “Hello Cleveland.”

He told reporters he was, “speaking to millions of people for the first time. So no pressure, right? What could possibly go wrong?”


1:23 p.m.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is comparing Donald Trump to his “political hero,” the late President Ronald Reagan.

Pence, Trump’s newly-named running mate, spoke Tuesday afternoon to a luncheon held by the American Conservative Union Foundation.

Pence said that Trump, like Reagan, “never lost touch with everyday Americans” despite big career achievements.

The Indiana governor, long a favorite of conservatives, was making his first appearance as since Trump named him to the ticket.

Pence deemed the presumptive nominee “a good man” who will be a great president because “his heart beats with” the American people.

Trump will officially become the party’s nominee Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention.


12:52 a.m.

The Justice Department has removed from its Twitter account a tweet that linked to news coverage of Melania Trump and described CNN as the “biggest troll of them all.”

The tweet was pulled Tuesday morning soon after it surfaced.

The department said a staffer in its public affairs office erroneously sent an “inappropriate” message using the department’s official Twitter account that had been intended for a personal account. The staffer’s access to the department’s social media accounts has been revoked.

The message included a link to a CNN story about allegations that Melania Trump had plagiarized sections of her Monday night Republican National Convention speech from a 2008 convention speech by Michelle Obama.

The tweet said: “CNN is the biggest troll of them all” and included the hashtag, “petty.”


12:22 p.m.

Hillary Clinton is picking up the endorsement of UNITE HERE ahead of a campaign trip to Nevada, winning the support of a labor union that represents workers in the hotel, gaming and food service industries.

The union represents 270,000 workers and is citing Clinton’s commitment to affordable health care and advocacy for immigrant families, including her push for comprehensive immigration reform.

Clinton was speaking to the convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Las Vegas on Tuesday and then holding an event at the Culinary Academy Training Center.


12:00 p.m.

Another musical act is telling Donald Trump to stop using their music.

The classic rock band Queen Tweeted Tuesday that they never approved Trump’s use of “We Are the Champions” during the 2016 Republic National Convention.

Before Melania Trump gave a speech in Cleveland on Monday night, Trump made a brief appearance to introduce her and walked onstage to Queen’s 1977 hit song.

The band wrote on Twitter, “An unauthorized use at the Republican Convention against our wishes.”

Other musicians who have asked Trump to stop using their music include the Rolling Stones, Adele and Neil Young.


10:40 a.m.

Newt Gingrich is calling the uproar over Melania Trump’s speech “baloney.”

In an interview Tuesday, the former House speaker dismissed the issue and pointed out that Vice President Joe Biden abandoned his presidential bid in 1988 for taking parts of British leader Neil Kinnock’s speech and President Barack Obama took heat for copying some of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s speech.

“It’s a little ripe for the news media to suddenly find how pure they are,” Gingrich said.

Two sections of Melania Trump’s speech were nearly word-for-word from Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention in 2008.

Gingrich said it was an effective speech and “I’ll be glad to match our first spouse against Bill Clinton’s first spouse next week. And let people decide which of those two first spouses you want.”


9:35 a.m.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says he disagrees with the Trump campaign’s sharp criticism of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose state is hosting the GOP convention.

Priebus says Kasich is a “fantastic governor” and one of the best in the country. His comments come a day after top adviser Paul Manafort called Kasich “petulant” for not attending the convention or endorsing the presumptive Republican nominee.

Manafort’s comments undercut the campaign’s efforts to portray the GOP has united coming out of the Cleveland convention. In trying to explain Manafort’s comments, Ryan says “campaigns get hot and rhetoric gets hot.”

Priebus spoke to reporters at a Bloomberg breakfast.


9:20 a.m.

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman says he would fire anyone who copied parts of first lady Michelle Obama’s speech into Melania Trump’s address to the Republican convention Monday night. But Paul Manafort added that he doesn’t believe there was plagiarism.

Manafort told The Associated Press Tuesday that he agrees with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ remark that he would probably fire anyone responsible for plagiarizing. Manafort said, “Frankly if I knew somebody did it, I would fire them too.”

Manafort added that “nobody believes” Mrs. Trump plagiarized the speech.

He said, “There were a few words on it, but they’re not words that were unique words. Ninety-nine percent of that speech talked about her being an immigrant and love of country and love of family and everything else.”

Manafort added in the brief interview, “This is totally blown out of proportion.”

He continued, “They’re not even sentences. They’re literally phrases.”


9:10 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan plans to tell the Republican National Convention that the country can make the changes it needs only with Republican majorities in Congress — and Donald Trump in the White House.

The Wisconsin Republican also will call for unity for the GOP and for the country. And he will offer a contrast with the “failed progressivism” of the Obama years.

That’s according to a preview of the speaker’s remarks released by aides Tuesday ahead of Ryan’s nighttime speech. He will also talk about the “sense of urgency” of this election.

Ryan will be among several congressional leaders taking the stage in Cleveland Tuesday night. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also will speak.


8:54 a.m.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus says he would “probably” fire his speechwriters if they lifted passages from someone else’s remarks.

However, Priebus says he doesn’t “have a view yet” on whether Melania Trump’s convention speech included plagiarized sentences from a 2008 Michelle Obama address. Priebus praised Mrs. Trump for her “inspirational” remarks, particularly her story of immigrating from Slovenia.

He acknowledged the controversy was a “distraction” but said he expected the convention to get back on message Tuesday.

Priebus spoke to reporters at a Bloomberg breakfast.


8:10 a.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is playing down criticism over lifted passages in Melania Trump’s convention remarks, saying “93 percent of the speech is completely different” than a speech first lady Michelle Obama delivered eight years ago.

Christie said Tuesday that Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Obama “expressed some common thoughts.” He did not explain how he arrived at the 93 percent figure.

Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, Christie said “a lot” of what he heard from Mrs. Trump “sounded very much like her and the way she speaks about Donald all the time.” He said on the first day of a party convention “everybody gets breathless about something to cover and a controversy to talk about.”

Christie predicted no one would be talking about the issue after Tuesday.


7:44 a.m.

Donald Trump’s oldest daughter says senior Republican figures who are not attending this week’s national convention “don’t want to be part of the narrative, they don’t want to be part of the future.”

They include former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Ivanka Trump also told ABC News that she worries about her father’s safety on the campaign trail but she is equally as worried about the security of the American people.

The interview aired Tuesday.


7:00 a.m.

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman says it’s “just absurd” to claim that Melania Trump lifted two passages nearly word-for-word from the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention.

Paul Manafort told CNN Tuesday morning that “there’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech.”

He added that, “there’s no feeling on her part that she did it.”

Manafort suggested that Mrs. Trump was merely using “words that are common words.”