Donald Trump was aided by a teleprompter during his speech on Tuesday night, but don’t tell him that.
Even if you couldn’t see the prompters in front of Donald Trump’s podium, you knew they were there: He was calmer, more subdued, and… “controlled,” as multiple TV networks put it. It came as no surprise that Trump’s team must have put him on a leash after an awful week, during which he attempted to delegitimize a federal judge based on his parents’ country of birth, to distract from two potentially disastrous class action lawsuits against Trump University.
But Trump has called out politicians all along for using teleprompters; it’s part of a broader marketing effort for his so-called authentic, deliberately-politically-incorrect, Nixon-esque “silent majority” campaign brand. He writes his own tweets, after all — complete with shoddy grammar and misspellings — and hidden within that obnoxiously long list of narcissism and insecurity, you’ll find a few gems:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2014
“@paul1994loan You would be the most straightforward Prez weve ever had. I dont see you reading prepared speeches off a teleprompter”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2015
Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn’t even look presidential!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2016
Based on those tweets alone, it’s difficult to believe Trump would bother using a prompter. But Trump might not have a choice, as he faces pressure to fall in line with the “establishment” politicians he has slammed all along, most of whom disavowed his blatant racism towards Judge Curiel.
Trump also used a teleprompter during his recent speech on foreign policy, which led to headlines criticizing him for mispronouncing “Tanzania.” So much for his charge that Hillary Clinton — for better or worse, one of the more practiced orators in the world — was “Reading poorly from the teleprompter!”
Trump had his own struggles with the teleprompter on Tuesday. When discussing trade deals, someone in the crowd yelled “No TPP!” Trump, seemingly confused, responded by saying “No PPP, you’re right about that.” Moments later, he said, “And you mean no PP.”
The more reserved nature of his speech begs the question: How does a campaign “script” Donald Trump, and who does the scripting?. Reports indicate that the speeches were written by Trump’s “inner circle,” which includes his daughter Ivanka. Should Trump continue to rely on scripted speeches, which clearly aren’t a strength of his, that inner circle has a profoundly tall task ahead of it: if Trump can’t read as well as he demagogues, he’ll have to find a better selling point to his supporters other than his fragile “authenticity.”
Lou Dobbs said Trump “returned” during his speech on Tuesday night, and even went as far as saying, “What you saw is the guy I think we are going to see through the rest of this.” Bad news: teleprompters aren’t allowed on the debate stage.
Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump walks past a teleprompter as he departs after delivering a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, United States, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg