With a United States presidential election taking place in just over 3 months in November, this week the 2016 Republican National Convention took place at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
With a simple majority of 1,237 required to win the presidential nomination, it was no surprise to see business mogul Donald Trump confirmed as the Republican nominee having collected 1,725 of the 2,472 delegates available.
Since Trump descended that now historic gold escalator to announce his candidacy last June the well-known celebrity has been a very unorthodox Republican candidate, with several talking points throughout the campaign.
However one of the biggest talking points of this week’s Republican National Convention didn’t come from Trump himself, it came from his wife Melania Trump, who as the hopeful next First Lady, addressed the Republican crowd in Ohio.
The speech on Monday night sparked plenty of drama in the media, with strong allegations that Mrs Trump/her speechwriter plagiarised sections of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention address.
The aspiring first lady’s speech has come under intense scrutiny with striking similarities between the two speeches and with full sentences recycled from Mrs Obama choice phrases and soundbites eight years ago.
Earlier this week the Trump campaign was forced to issue an apology, and issued a statement by McIver (The Author of the Mrs Trumps speech) which included the following:
“In working with Melania on her recent first lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.”
While this speech controversy sounds like bad publicity, the old age mantra in public relations is “there is no such thing as bad publicity“.
Trump having progressed through a series of presidential primary elections and caucuses, has now won enough votes from Republican Party members to secure his place and running mate Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, place on the Republican election ticket.
However if Trump harbours real hopes of taking the Oath of Office and becoming the 45th President of the United States, he will need to reach out and collect votes from outside of the blue-collar voters his campaign has attracted thus far.
It’s for that reason I believe the speech controversy may just be a well-choreographed PR master piece by the Trump campaign to tap into those voters from outside his current strand of support.
The staple themes of Trump’s campaign has been anti-Political correctness, and being tough on immigration and border security, with proposed deportation of all illegal immigrants, a proposed construction of a substantial wall on the border with Mexico, paid for by Mexico, and a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the country if they originate from countries with a history of terrorism.
These key strands of Trump’s campaign has proven popular with Republican grassroots members, working class, blue-collar voters and voters without college degrees, however his strong rhetoric on immigration has led to huge swathes of public controversy which has alienated other potential voters from supporting the American businessman.
Many people feel Trump’s tough hard line immigration stance is xenophobic and therefore the former Apprentice host needs to soften his image, to gather influence with these voters.
What presents a perfect way to soften his image?
Highlighting his marriage to Melania, who is a European born in what was then Yugoslavia but is now known as Slovenia, of course.
Mrs Trump has kept such a low profile over the course of the campaign so far, that Monday night’s speech was the first time many people had heard of her. With fragments of the First Lady’s speech 8 years present in Mrs Trump’s speech, the proceedings ignited a storm in a teacup that has dominated the media.
With the mainstream media continually talking about his wife and often airing footage of the speech almost all of America, if not the world must now know that the candidate known for his strong anti-illegal immigration views, is himself married to an immigrant.
With the potential to create a split-screen video of Mrs Trump and Mrs Obama repeating the same words the footage is sure to be aired over and over again until November.
The resulting media storm from this controversy and potential repeats of the footage may just well have the potential to soften Donald’s image, and get those voters currently alienated by his immigration views, to listen attentively to the businessman’s other policy areas, which may appeal more than his rival Clinton’s.
We will have to wait till November to find out if this was a gaffe by Team Trump or if it was indeed a well-choreographed piece of PR which helped the 70 year old ascend to become the 45th President of the United States, but it’s sure to be an entertaining watch.