President Donald Trump offered an explanation on Friday for his bizarre reference to Revolutionary War “airports” during a speech on the Fourth of July, pinning the blame squarely on an alleged faulty teleprompter.
“Yeah, the teleprompter went out,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, crediting it to the rainy conditions in D.C. ahead of his speech on Thursday.
“It went kaput,” Trump added. “And I could have said — so actually right in the middle of that sentence, it went out. And that’s not a good feeling!”
Trump added that the teleprompter was hard to read throughout due to ran on the screen. The modern teleprompters favored by presidents use a screen on the ground to reflect the text of the speech onto a plexiglass screen placed near the speaker’s line of sight.
Watch the video below:
President Trump: "That's not a good feeling when you're standing in front of millions and millions of people on television… And I guess the rain knocked out the teleprompter. But I knew the speech very well." pic.twitter.com/5MCZc2Vw6t
— The Hill (@thehill) July 5, 2019
Trump’s explanation seems plausible, but his decision to blame an awkward moment of his speech on the teleprompter strikes an interesting contrast with Trump’s past sharp criticisms of former President Barack Obama’s usage of the same technology.
“I’ve always said, if you run for president, you shouldn’t be allowed to use teleprompters,” Trump said in 2016, according to Politico. “Because you don’t even know if the guy is smart.”
“I say we should outlaw teleprompters,” he said in a 2015 campaign speech.
Trump was one of a number of Republicans who repeatedly lashed out at Obama for using teleprompters in his public speeches.
“Why does [Barack Obama] always have to rely on teleprompters?” Trump tweeted in 2012.
Why does @BarackObama always have to rely on teleprompters?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2012
Trump offered similar tweets for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle.
“Just can’t read speeches!” he wrote in a tweet, arguing that Clinton’s use of a teleprompter inhibited emotion in her remarks.
Hillary said such nasty things about me, read directly off her teleprompter…but there was no emotion, no truth. Just can't read speeches!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2015
Though he is known for the off-the-cuff comments he tends to make at his rallies, Trump eventually came around to the teleprompter later in his presidential campaign when he was required to make speeches more heavy on policy. Now, they’re visible on stage for nearly every speech he makes.