President Barack Obama is scaling back his teleprompter use on the campaign trail this season, instead opting for notes on paper, The Hill reported Tuesday. His campaign believes this method will prove to be a more genuine way of addressing supporters, perhaps serving the dual purpose of blunting a favorite topic of mockery among the president's critics.
From The Hill:
The difference is dramatic. Instead of turning in his characteristic manner from right to left and back again, reading from the two sloping, clear-plastic planes of his teleprompter, Obama has glanced down at pages in a binder on his podium.
Team Obama thinks the switch, or partial switch -- the president is not giving up the teleprompter entirely -- will help him better connect with voters.
Senior officials in the Obama campaign told The Hill that the shift was also about "upping the tempo" during campaign events, partially in an effort to encourage more unscripted moments. Such unpredictable exchanges could work to draw a contrast between the president and his rival, Mitt Romney, who is still working to shake the characterization that he can be stiff and awkward.
Obama's reliance on a teleprompter has provided dependable fodder for the president's detractors throughout his first term in office, even though presidents have used them similarly for decades. Back when the GOP primary was still a legitimate contest, candidates from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain mocked the president's use of the visual aids, attempting to paint the practice as evidence that Obama's oratory expertise was more about reading than actually connecting with people.
The president's apparent trend toward embracing the potential spontaneity of the campaign trail may be good for optics -- and certainly a way to avoid the embarrassment of mechanical failures -- but observers suggest it's not a sign that he's ready to retire the teleprompter all together.
“When you’re trying to deliver a precise message, the teleprompter is a great tool to have, but when you’re looking to generate passion and connect more directly, it’s somewhat limiting,” said Joe Lockhart, a former Clinton press secretary, told The Hill. “When he speaks at the convention, those remarks will be much more precise."