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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Graig Graziosi

Trump accuses Ron DeSantis of ‘blatantly’ plagiarising his speech

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Donald Trump has accused his GOP presidential primary rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, of "blatantly" stealing a line from one of his speeches, despite the fact that the line dates back to former President Ronald Reagan.

During Mr DeSantis's glitchy presidential bid announcement on Twitter, he invoked the phrase "Great American Comeback," which Mr Trump furiously claimed in a campaign statement that the governor stole from him.

"I'm Ron DeSantis, and I'm running to lead the Great American Comeback," the Florida governor said. The phrase also served as the title of his official campaign video.

Mr Trump's team took the opportunity to lash out at the former president's top rival in the Republican primary.

“Amid a catastrophic failure to launch, Ron DeSantis announced his candidacy with ‘Great American Comeback,’ a phrase stolen from President Donald J. Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address,” the campaign statement said. “Perhaps, the DeSantis communications staff was pre-occupied attempting to extinguish the flames of their candidate’s announcement to come up with their own message.”

The campaign statement included a side-by-side comparison between Mr Trump's 2020 State of the Union address and Mr DeSantis's launch video, according to Talking Points Memo.

“Three years ago we launched the great American comeback. Tonight I stand before you to share the incredible results,” Mr Trump says in the clip.

While the phrases are certainly identical, Mr Trump wasn't actually the first one to utter the words. The first widely known use of the phrase was by another former president — Ronald Reagan — during his 1986 State of the Union speech.

Mr Reagan's speech — which had been delayed by the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster — included him boasting about the nation's economic growth and falling interest rates, which he chalked up to his policies.

”Family and community remain the moral core of our society, guardians of our values and hopes for the future,” Mr Reagan said. ”Family and community are the co-stars of this great American comeback.”

Talking Points Memo found that the phrase became relatively common following the address, and was used when describing everything from tennis matches to rebounding reptile populations.

Even within the realm of politics the phrase is not unique; House Speak Kevin McCarthy has used it numerous times, as has conservative pundit Monica Crowley.

Mr DeSantis was also recently needled for clumsily invoking the spirit of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill while complaining about "woke" ideology.

"I recognize that the woke mind virus represents a war on the truth, so we will wage a war on the woke. We will fight the woke in education, we will fight the woke in the corporations, we will fight the woke in the halls of Congress," Mr DeSantis said in a speech on Saturday.

The syntax of the speech is similar to the famous speech Churchill made in 1940 to the UK's House of Commons to lift British spirits following the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II.

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender," Churchill said.

Critics, including former Barack Obama under secretary Richard Stengel, pointed out that Churchill was discussing battling against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, while Mr DeSantis is railing against pronouns and trans bathroom usage.

"Churchill was fighting Nazism, an enemy bent on world domination, while DeSantis is fighting, well, empathy and compassion," Mr Stengel said. "Not the same."

The Independent has reached out to both Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis for comment.

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