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Trump Jr. Says Obama Lifted Phrase From His RNC Speech

It's a rhetorical contruction Obama has used often in the past.
Image: RNC in Cleveland 2016
Donald Trump Jr. speaks on the second day of the 2016 Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 19.MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA

Donald Trump Jr. suggested Thursday that Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia Wednesday night lifted a line from his Republican National Convention remarks, pointing out that both addresses contained the line "That's not the America I know."

The charge comes after Melania Trump was criticized for cribbing significant portions of her address to the RNC from Michelle Obama's first convention speech in 2008.

Trump Jr. is correct that both he and Obama both used the single phrase in their speeches to their respective party conventions. But it's also a line Obama, along with other past presidents, has used frequently in the past. And other than the brief sentiment about the version of America known to both men, the context of the statements are very different.

Here's what the younger Trump said last week in Cleveland.

Donald Trump Jr: There’s so much work to do. We will not accept the current state of our country because it’s too hard to change. That’s not the America I know. We’re going to unleash the creative spirit and energy of all Americans. We’re going to make our schools the best in the world for every single American of every single ethnicity and background.

And here's what the president said in Philadelphia.

President Barack Obama: What we heard in Cleveland last week wasn't particularly Republican and it sure wasn't conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems, just the fanning of resentment and blame and anger and hate. And that is not the America I know. The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous.

Obama has also frequently used the construction of "the America I know" and "not the America I know" in public addresses.

During an economic address in Cleveland, Ohio in 2010, for example, he said "Instead of setting our sights higher, they’re asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth and eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class. Cleveland, that is not the America I know. That is not the America we believe in."

In 2012 in Michigan, Obama described college affordability in terms of "the America I know," saying "I want this to be a big, bold, generous country where everybody gets a fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules. That’s the America I know."

More recently, in an speech memorializing fallen police officers in Dallas earlier this month, Obama described the victims helping each other amid the chaos. "'Everyone was helping each other,' one witness said. 'It wasn’t about black or white. Everyone was picking each other up and moving them away.' See, that’s the America I know."

The use of the "America I know" refrain was also a common phrase for former president George W. Bush.

In the days after the 9/11 attacks, for example, Bush spoke about his view of the country during a visit to an Islamic center.

"Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America," he said. "That's not the America I know. That's not the America I value."