Biden knows the price of plagiarism

PLUS: Vice president refuses media questions during bland Australian leg of his down-under tour.

Unless you were trapped under a rock yesterday, you'll have seen that the wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Melania Trump (or her writers), lifted parts of her Republican Convention Centre speech from an earlier effort by Michelle Obama, when her husband President Barack Obama was the Democrat candidate.

It was an embarrassing effort on a day that made the Team Trump look disorganised (beyond her well-canvassed plagiarism, the Economist notes campaign manager Paul Manafort said the convention is supposed to show a “very personal” side to Donald Trump – presumably to soften his image with voters who find him too brash. But Mrs Trump's speech eschewed family anecdotes in favour of repeating broad campaign themes).

It also recalled the incident that forced Joe Biden to pull out of the race for the Democrat presidential race ahead of the 1988 election.

Mr Biden was forced to withdraw after the Des Moines Register revealed he had used large portions of a speech by (then) British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without attribution. Later, according to a New York Times report, it emerged that he had also used passages from the speeches of Robert F Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, as well as getting into hot water for plagiarism while a first-year law student.

The episode is relatively fresh in the US public's mind, thanks to the fact Mr Trump raised it in August last year as Mr Biden considered another run at the presidency (he ultimately decided against it, citing family reasons).

Mr Biden is scheduled to arrive in New Zealand tonight, accompanied by three grand-daughters. His 24-hour whistlestop tour will include talks with Prime Minister John Key that will include a general discussion of trade and foreign affairs issues. 

The vice-president is just finishing a four-day visit to Australia, where he has watched an AFL game in Melbourne, visited a Boeing plant and made bland, uplifting comments about the US-China relationship (and refused to take any questions from media) and visited the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre research. The fight against the disease became a personal cause for Mr Biden after his son Beau (who died last year aged 46) was afflicted with brain cancer.

The moment with the most gravitas came after Mr Biden's visit to troops on the Australian warship HMAS Adelaide, anchored in Sydney Harbour and bilateral talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr Turnbull, the vice-president said "It's important we stand together" over the South China Sea dispute.

With rumours of a possible trade war, New Zealand’s prime minister might be keen to avoid a similar photo-op.


If you're following the US presidential race, and have noted that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is now rating up to 12% in polls vs Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Green candidate Jill Stein, you'll find this in-depth New Yorker interview intriguing. The former Republican governor of New Mexico and construction magnate is revealed as an anti-tax Reaganite with a likeable personality — and an openness about his pot habit and his role in developing a (still illegal) cannabis lozenge.

Get full access to the NBR Rich List 2016, released July 28, by claiming your free 30-day trial to NBR ONLINE premium content at

Login in or Register to view & post comments