Clinton’s speech was a chronological—if sometimes rambling—recounting of his relationship with his wife. Because the Clintons’ lives have been so public for the past two and a half decades, many of the stories Clinton told at the DNC have been told before. But one in particular stood out because he told it in almost the exact same way in his memoir My Life.
Clinton opened his speech by discussing his first interactions with his future wife at Yale Law School in 1971. The relevant chunk starts around the one minute mark:
Clinton told this story in nearly the exact same way in his memoir My Life—on pages 238-241, to be precise, as Yoni Appelbaum was the first to discover. In that section, he describes meeting a girl in a Political and Civil Rights class with big glasses and bushy blonde hair and no makeup; he couldn’t stop staring but couldn’t bring himself to speak to her; finally she addressed him which impressed him greatly; he decided he didn’t care about a clerkship, just about the girl; and when he saw her the next time he got so distracted he tried to register for classes twice on the same day! The structure is the same—so is a lot of the language. You can see part of that section here:
It’s a good story and it’s the exact kind of story that couples tell about themselves over and over again—often in the same way—throughout their lives. Clinton almost certainly told this story before he wrote My Life, but that doesn’t change the fact that the speech used nearly the same language as My Life. Is it comparable to Melania Trump stealing Michelle Obama’s words? No. But it does change this passage of Clinton’s speech, which seemed so sincere and homespun—now it seems copy-pasted.