Last night, Donald Trump showed just how much trouble his campaign is already in when he resorted to using a *gasp* teleprompter:
After days of characteristic defiance amid charges that his comments accusing a Mexican-American judge of bias were racist, Trump’s speech Tuesday night marked an about-face as a more restrained, yet out-of-character Trump appeared.
Donald Trump turned to the two teleprompters to his left and right on Tuesday night and took a victory lap, as Republicans cast their final votes of the primary season.
The speech was a plea to Bernie voters to embrace Trump as a way to strike back at the “rigged” system and more of his usual attacks on the establishment. But the fact that he needed to use teleprompters is raising eyebrows:
His Campaign In Crisis, Donald Trump Turns To The Teleprompter – Huffington Post
Donald Trump Delivers Victory Speech Aided By Teleprompter – Bloomberg.com
If you’re not entirely sure why the teleprompter is a big deal, Trump has spent not a small amount of time attacking Hillary for using one herself. And Republicans have made it a staple of their attacks on President Obama despite Republicans regularly using it themselves. But hypocrisy aside, the more important detail is that Trump needed the teleprompter because of his inability to control his mouth. At all. Even a little.
Over the last week or so, Trump has unleashed a stream of unbelievably racist rants against Gonzalo Curiel, the judge presiding over the Trump University fraud case. After claiming that the “Mexican” judge (actually born in Indiana) could not be impartial, Trump doubled down on his racism and then tripled down. Eventually, he also included Muslims and women in the groups of potential judges that would be biased against him.
The entire episode shook even the hostile-to-Latinos Republican Party to the core. It was too racist and childish, even for them, causing many to wonder if Trump had the self-control to survive a presidential campaign, much less BE the president. Even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan flat out called Trump’s comments racist only a week after endorsing him.
Trump’s retreat to the use of a teleprompter instead of his usual train of thought babbling is a sign that even Trump recognizes that he’s in trouble. The problem is, Trump on a teleprompter is boring and his audience craves a show (What? You didn’t think they were there for policy discussions, did you?). Trump’s entire campaign is based on a cult of personality and reading from a teleprompter robs him of his spark so don’t expect him to keep using them.
On the other hand, without the teleprompter, Trump will not be able to stop himself from returning to the petty childishness that he’s well known for. When Clinton, Warren, Obama and, yes, even Sanders, start launching coordinated attacks on Trump’s history, lack of maturity, racism, sexism, ignorance, etc. etc. etc., Trump will either have to read a script that will fall flat or risk blurting out more peevish nonsense.
The bullying nastiness worked really well in the primary because the Republican base is, at its core, a group of nasty, spoiled children that don’t want to share their toys with Those People. But that’s not America by a long shot and what appeals to emotionally stunted racists will not resonate even a little with the general public. So, ironically, Trump finds himself in the same position as the Republican Party: In order to appeal to the rest of the country, he has to alienate his rabid base.
Teleprompters are not going to save Donald Trump from his own worst enemy: Himself.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images