Lately, President Obama has been leaving behind a once constant companion: the teleprompter.
Obama took quite a bit of guff for what opponents took to be an over-reliance on the ubiquitous little screens; Newser reports that Obama may have taken that criticism to heart, as he has been using them less.
Indeed, The Hill notes that at campaign events in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and in Ohio, Obama switched his screens for written notes. The hope from Obama’s team is that his partial switch to notes (the teleprompters aren’t going away entirely) will help him connect better with voters.
It hasn’t just been Republicans mocking the President’s over-reliance (teleprompters even appeared once in a sixth-grade classroom). Even Vice President Biden has given the President a hard time over the issue. Once, after Biden’s teleprompter was knocked down by wind in 2009, he joked, “What am I going to tell the president when I tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?”
Now, the Obama team is hoping that the switch will help the President appear more spontaneous. A senior official said that the switch has “less to do with image and more to do with upping the tempo.” According to Joe Lockhart, a Clinton White House press secretary, noted that “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.”
We can expect the President to bring out the teleprompter when he needs to make more formal speeches. But the handwritten notes are useful when he really needs to connect with his audience, like he did in Virginia the other day.