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Did Melania Trump Plagiarize Her Speech From Michelle Obama?

Accusations of plagiarism in a speech by Donald Trump's wife have dominated the Republican convention just when the party was hoping to focus on the formal anointing of her businessman husband as its White House nominee.

Melania Trump's address to the convention in Cleveland on Monday night contained a section that was strikingly similar to words delivered at the Democratic convention in 2008 by the woman she hopes to succeed as first lady, Michelle Obama.

As critics accused her of lifting passages from that speech, a Trump campaign official on Tuesday suggested the similarity was the result of an error by Melania Trump's speech writers.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said he would probably fire the writer if that were the case.

The controversy raised questions about the Trump campaign's attention to detail as he squares off against the larger, more organised operation of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and seeks to win the job of president on November 8.

Melania Trump's speech followed rowdy scenes on the floor of the convention on Monday, the first day of the gathering, when Trump opponents staged a failed attempt to force a vote opposing his candidacy.

Trump, a real estate developer and former reality TV star who has never held elective office, is trailing Clinton in many polls after a bruising Republican primary season.

The party is trying to turn attention to its formal declaration of Trump as its presidential nominee on Tuesday night.

Convention organisers are worried about political protests in Cleveland but so far demonstrations have been peaceful.

Gunshots were heard near a police transportation vehicle by the site of the convention on Tuesday, police sources said. No injuries were reported.

Three women were arrested after climbing a flagpole near the convention site and hanging an anti-Trump banner.

Trump ally Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, sought to defend Melania Trump by pointing to the parts of the speech that were not controversial.

Asked on NBC's "Today" show if as a former prosecutor he could make a case for plagiarism from the speech, he said, "No, not when 93 per cent of the speech is completely different from Michelle Obama's speech, and they express common thoughts."

"I think after tonight we won't be talking about this, we'll move on to whatever comes up tonight," he said.

Democrats said the speech showed that Trump's team is not ready for prime time.

"Real amateur hour," Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Obama, told CNN. "They screwed up the first night."

Trump himself made no mention of the accusations about plagiarism in a Twitter post early on Tuesday, saying simply: "It was truly an honour to introduce my wife, Melania Trump last night. Her speech and demeanour were absolutely incredible. Very proud!"

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top US elected Republican, was to formally put Trump's name forward later on Tuesday to be the party's nominee.

The candidate was to receive the blessing on stage of other senior Republicans, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Both Ryan and McConnell need Trump to do well in the November election as they seek to preserve majorities in Congress.

The theme of Tuesday's convention event was entitled "Make America Work Again," and speakers were to take aim at Obama's record on the economy.

AAP

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