The bestselling author of Unusual For Their Time: On The Road With America’s First Ladies told Breitbart News Melania Trump’s Monday night speech to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland blew a chance to introduce America to Donald J. Trump’s wife by emphasizing her strengths and natural appeal.
Melania Trump did a good job Monday night and the reaction from the delegates was exactly what the Trump campaign wanted and expected, said Andrew Och, the author of the book about America’s First Ladies. “The problem is she was using someone else’s speech for a large part of that.”
Media reports have compared similar phrases and themes in Trump’s speech and First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
The problem was complicated by Trump telling people that she wrote the speech herself, Och said. “That was a smart move because the Trump camp is trying to separate her from handlers and preparers. They want her to seem what she is: a smart woman. You don’t speak five different languages if you are a ding-dong.”
Trump is a well-traveled and accomplished woman, he said. “But, no one in politics–in a very long time–has written their own speech completely across the board, so when they step out and try to make it seem that she wrote her own speech and then something like this pops ups, it is very difficult to wheel that back.”
It is a further shame that in the end, it was not really a great speech, he said.
“The key here is that the Trump campaign missed a huge opportunity to put Melania Trump out there, and she should have killed it,” he said. “I could have written a better speech for her, honestly, not to pat myself on the back as a great speechwriter, but she is a smart, international woman with beauty, youth and a child, who has all the makings for a fantastic First Lady–the next Jackie Kennedy. They could have gone along with those lines and not gone with the lines of that 2008 speech.”
Instead of putting the Trump campaign way ahead with a speech that leveraged Melania Trump’s natural appeal, the campaign is stuck explaining what happened, he said.
Och was a producer for many years with C-SPAN, the cable industry’s government affairs portal. In 2012, he spent a year visited the homes and museums associated with every First Lady for a series called “First Ladies: Influence and Image,” which delved into the backstories of these women. The series and his book based on his travels for the series earned him the moniker: “First Ladies Man.”
Och said the spouses of presidential candidates have been critical in recent history to the success of their husbands’ campaigns.
“In modern times, we have seen ones who have come across as very supportive and pushing along their husband’s agenda, but in a more receptive way–and that is the role,” he said. “It is a softening of the image, which is what Melania did very well Monday night. She softened her husband up and made him more palatable to some of the people he has polarized.”
Another example is Laura Bush, he said.
“She was excellent,” Och said. “The feelings there were so true. You knew that Laura Bush and George W. Bush were–are a love match.”
The couple that lived in the White House before the George W. Bushes was different, he said.
“You look at Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and theirs is more of a functional and professional relationship, I think down deep, and that comes across, too,” he said. “It is a little colder, but she is a good public speaker, and she’s a smart lady, so she could come across as supportive in a different way.”