President Obama is weaning himself off his teleprompter.
At recent campaign events in Pennsylvania, Virginia and again Monday in Ohio, Obama spoke to crowds in high school gymnasiums and at crowded outdoor events without his teleprompter, instead using written notes.
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.
Critics have mocked Obama’s routine use of the teleprompter, including in speeches to schoolchildren. And the new use of written notes appears intended to trade away the smooth, distant demeanor of teleprompter rhetoric for a little more immediacy and vigor. A senior administration official acknowledged the shift in the president’s style, saying Obama is speaking “more extemporaneously.”
But the senior official said the lack of teleprompters has “less to do with image and more to do with upping the tempo” at campaign events, while creating more unscripted moments.
Not using a teleprompter lets Obama be more spontaneous on the stump. Since making the shift, the president at times has ad-libbed remarks while playing off his supporters’ reactions, something that had been difficult with a teleprompter.