Presidential Campaign

Teleprompter Trump: the right temperament or low-energy Donald?

Donald Trump, AIPAC
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The most common prefix that can be associated with Donald Trump is undoubtedly “un”. 

Unpredictable. Uncensored. Unbelievable. Unfiltered. Unafraid. Uncanny. And to those who won’t be voting for the Republican nominee, unacceptable. 

{mosads}These “un” characterizations — good or bad — all stem from Trump making comments off the cuff and without the one thing so many politicians and particularly Hillary Clinton depend on: 

A script. 

And when there’s a script involved in the world of campaigning, so is a teleprompter. For his part, Trump has almost always shunned the concept in an effort to stay authentic and the ultimate anti-politician. 

“These other guys, they’re going around, they make a speech in front of 21 people. Nobody cares, they read the same speech…They have teleprompters,” Trump opined at a rally in August 2015. “I say we should outlaw teleprompters … for anybody running for president.”

He also said this two months later: 

“I’ve always said, if you run for president, you shouldn’t be allowed to use teleprompters. Because you don’t even know if the guy is smart.”

Tonight at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump will be using teleprompters. It won’t be the first time during this campaign he will be a conventional candidate: Trump used one most notably during a speech at AIPAC near Washington in April to solid reviews. 

Was he controversial? No. Was he bombastic, amusing, brutally candid? Nope. Did he go off on any tangents and/or force his communications team to scramble in explaining Trump’s ill-advised comment of the day? He didn’t. 

But is a homogenized Trump via carefully-worded speeches, a Trump playing not to lose, not to make a mistake, the better candidate? It depends on what one thinks Trump needs to accomplish tonight with 30-40 million people watching. 

Note: The GOP nominee has many kinds of poll numbers that makes one wonder how he’s currently in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton in the Real Clear Politics average. He’s well underwater with minorities and women, for example. But one result in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey that particularly stands out asked the following question last month:

Does Donald Trump have the right temperament to be president? 

Only 12 percent gave him high marks. 12 percent. And a whopping 60 percent — five times as many — gave him a “very poor” score. 

So if its agreed that Trump needs to show he can act and sound mature, measured and presidential… then a teleprompter should be his best friend. 

But authenticity and candor played a big role in getting him here.   

It’s a balancing act for the ages. Stay on track, don’t go off the rails, but still stay true to the unfiltered, unapologetic Trump brand. 

Much has happened at the Republican National Convention thus far: Charges of plagiarism. Repeated chants to lock up the competition. The Trump adult children impressing the hell out of everybody. Ted Cruz getting booed off the stage. Mike Pence not only hitting it out of the park, but even knocking the cover off the ball. 

In the end, it all comes down to Donald Trump’s speech. Everything else gets forgotten. 

The questions are: 

Will teleprompter Trump still be must-see-TV? 

Will this version quell any fears he doesn’t have the temperament for the job? 

Or will he be the very thing he mocked another candidate of being? 

“Low-energy Donald.”

Now that would be one more “un” word: 


Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags 2016 Republican convention Cleveland convention Donald Trump GOP Hillary Clinton Mike Pence Ohio Republican Party Ted Cruz Teleprompter United States

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