Massachusetts GOP chair addresses Melania Trump speech, Baker’s RNC absence

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BEACHWOOD, OHIO — A day after the wife of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump drew fire for lifting passages of First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes looked to downplay the controversy, saying the episode will likely be forgotten as convention week moves forward.

“I think today people will be talking about something different,” Hughes said prior to the state GOP’s breakfast meeting Tuesday. “It’s a story from yesterday.”

“I think that, again, her message was one of genuine appreciation and love for her husband and her family, and I think that’s something that will show through.”

Hughes, when pressed on whether Melania Trump’s speech constituted a form of plagiarism, did describe the incident as “unfortunate.”

“I think there’s certainly room for criticism on that, but again, I think the message was that she has a great family, she loves her husband and she’s supportive him and he’s been supportive of her,” Hughes said. “Her story as someone who is an immigrant and only learned English as an adult, who came to this country and made success for herself, that’s really what’s telling and what’s inspiring to people.”

When asked directly if she thought Melania Trump intentionally plagiarized, Hughes said the matter is “for other people to decide, not me.”

“I’m sure there are questions that they’re asking folks today and there are things they are working through themselves internally,” Hughes said of the Trump presidential campaign.

Hughes also answered questions regarding Gov. Charlie Baker’s absence from this week’s Republican National Convention. The Swampscott Republican has been vocal in his disdain for Trump’s brand of politics.

“I’m thrilled he’s back in Massachusetts working for the people there,” Hughes said about Baker. “I think he’s doing his job — we don’t pay him to come to national conventions.”

Hughes also recalled how politically active former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick was during Obama’s reelection bid four years ago.

“Let’s not forget that Deval Patrick did a lot of campaigning in 2012 for President Obama, and look what happened — we had the MBTA crisis and things really fell apart at home,” Hughes said. “I think we are very happy that Gov. Baker is keeping his eye on the ball with regards to what matters most for Massachusetts.”