Melania's words, Donald's entrance talk of Cleveland

Former candidate Ben Carson dismisses controversy, rallies Florida delegates

CLEVELAND – Republican delegates and the rest of the nation watching the political convention in Cleveland were talking about two things Tuesday: The way Donald Trump made his entrance Monday night and the words Melania Trump used in her speech.

Both made an impact for very different reasons.

Most delegates didn't want to discuss accusations that Mrs. Trump plagiarized sections of her speech from a speech Michelle Obama made eight years ago.

The biggest name Donald Trump supporter who spoke at the Florida delegation breakfast Tuesday, former candidate presidential Ben Carson, has had his own plagiarism controversy. He didn't want to discuss it.

"We are always trying to create problems," Carson said. "Why don't we look at the positive aspects?"

Last year, Carson apologized about plagiarism material in a book he wrote in 2012.  Asked if Melania Trump should also apologize, his answer went to the common concepts and shared values.

"I don't think that they were plagiarized. I think there are general principles that are very valuable to America," Carson said. "And, of course, to express those principles, you’re going to use similar language. Again, I think we spend way too much time trying to create controversy, and if we spent this equal amount of time trying to promote harmony, I think we’d be a much stronger country."

Donald Trump’s campaign manager also said the words Mrs. Trump used were common phrases with common themes.

"I think what we should be thinking about is: If Melania speech is similar to Michelle Obama's speech, that should make us all very happy, because we should be saying that whether we're Democrats or Republicans, we share the same values," Paul Manafort, said. "That's what we should be talking about. Not trying to make it into a controversy."

At Tuesday's Florida breakfast, hosted by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam Tuesday, the other buzz was about Donald Trump's brief but theatrical appearance to introduce his wife.

It was theatrical, entertaining and energizing for Republicans, who seemed to take note of the break from tradition.

"I think it was awesome, you know, the way he came in," U.S. Rep. Ted Yaho, R-Gainesville. "I've got to think that they're a little bit Hollywood there, and that was good. The way (he) came in and came out and introduced his wife, I thought was perfect."

"It was an exciting moment in time," former Duval County Republican Chairman John Falconetti said. "It broke with tradition, but it also sent that message: "You guys be ready, because the regular agenda will not be the agenda of this convention.' That's exactly what we need right now."

This is Falconetti's fourth Republican convention -- his second as a delegate.

"I think it's tough in sound bites and on camera to really understand the excitement and the energy that's being created here," Falconetti said. "This convention is all about unity, all about the party coming together, like every single convention should be."

Falconetti  said that even the controversy that generated a raucous floor vote on the rules during Monday afternoon's session wasn't all bad.

"The large majority of the floor erupted in shouts of, 'We want Trump,' 'USA, USA!' It was actually a very exciting, fun moment, as it turned out," Falconetti said. "But everybody had a great time and everybody leaves the convention yesterday happy and motivated, which is what it's really all about."

Republicans know that they need strong support among among North Florida Republicans to overcome the strong Democratic vote in South Florida for Trump to carry the state. And while Trump may not have been the first choice of many, he's now Republican's only choice and must rally around him.

"Northeast Florida is a hotbed of conservatism. We get a great Republican turnout up in that area, and we have to win by so many votes in order to offset other areas of the state," Falconetti said.


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