'Oh God': Michelle Obama's Former Speech Writer Recalls Her Thoughts On Melania Trump Plagiarism Incident
Sarah Hurwitz was shocked when she first heard Melania Trump's convention speech.
September 13, 2019 at 1:23 pm
Discussing her new book with PEOPLE, Michelle Obama's former speechwriter revealed her thoughts on Melania Trump plagiarizing the former First Lady's speech in 2016.
Sarah Hurwitz said her first reaction when she heard Melania Trump's speech during the 2016 Republican National Convention was, "Oh God."
“Making that kind of mistake is every speechwriter’s worst nightmare,” Hurwitz told PEOPLE.
The First Lady's speechwriter admitted that part of the speech was taken from Obama.
"This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama," speechwriter Meredith McIver said in a statement in 2016.
McIver said she read “passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples” of inspiration.
“I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech," McIver said. "I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches.”
Hurwitz said the Obamas took pride in avoiding similar mistakes.
“I just felt this moment of gratitude that we had the most amazing fact-checkers who scrubbed every line of every speech,” Hurwitz told PEOPLE. “It was so important to the Obamas to always be accurate and always tell the truth to the American people. It was this incredible concern for accuracy and honesty and truth that we lived by every day.”
According to USA Today, the Trump campaign issued a statement after the First Lady made her speech in 2016, saying she only took fragments of Obama's speech.
"In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life's inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking," Senior Communications Adviser Jason Miller said. "Melania's immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such success."
In her interview with PEOPLE, Hurwitz also discussed Obama's popular phrase, "When they go low, we go high."
Hurwitz said people have been giving her credit for coming up with the famous line, but it was Obama herself who came up with the phrase.
“I feel very guilty when people give me credit for it, her line,” Hurwitz said. “You know, she lives by that. At this time, which is just such a difficult time, to see someone whose life is an embodiment of ‘When they go low, we go high,’ it is so uplifting. It is such a joy, and I think people are so drawn to that.”
Hurwitz's new book, Here All Along, mainly focuses on Judaism.
Hurwitz said she's "trying to show people the wisdom Judaism has for our daily lives.”