President Biden’s recent string of awkward teleprompter gaffes could cost him the presidency in 2024, say communications experts who urge the White House team to train Mr. Biden on how to properly read off the machine.
“This is costing the president his reputation, his validity and his presidency. Little mistakes have that big of an impact,” said Lauri Plesco, a teleprompter consultant who worked with Mr. Biden during an Atlanta campaign stop when he was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2008.
“If you invest a little bit of time into teleprompter training, it’s going to be paid for, because everything we do is communications,” she continued.
During their meeting in 2008, Ms. Plesco said Mr. Biden was “all over the place” when he was speaking off the teleprompter, which she attributed to a lack of rehearsal. She said he was reading considerably ahead of the words that were appearing on the teleprompter.
Ms. Plesco said she believes that the same lack of rehearsal is hurting Mr. Biden as president.
“I get the feeling he’s not rehearsing. I know the president is busy and he has all these things going on. But that lack of an hour or 30 minutes of rehearsing can cost him greatly,” she said.
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Ms. Plesco said reading from a teleprompter is a learned skill that differs from public speaking generally and takes time and training of its own. In addition to rehearsing speeches, she also said the president’s team should put directions such as “end quote” in a different color so he doesn’t, as has happened, say stage directions.
The president’s teleprompter gaffes come even as Mr. Biden becomes increasingly reliant on it.
In May, Politico reported that the White House abandoned using the Oval Office for press events in favor of an imitation set in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building because the Oval Office can’t be permanently equipped with a teleprompter.
Still, Mr. Biden has had a long list of slip-ups in recent days.
Speaking in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, during the final day of his Middle East visit, the president mistakenly spoke of the “selfishness” of American troops.
“We’ll always honor the bravery and selfishness — selflessness — of the, and the sacrifices of the Americans who served, including my son, Maj. Beau Biden, who was stationed in Iraq for a year,” Mr. Biden said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, standing near Mr. Biden, noticeably shifted uncomfortably during the gaffe.
The comment followed another slip of the tongue in Israel, where Mr. Biden pledged to “keep alive the truth and honor of the Holocaust,” before quickly correcting himself and saying “the horror of the Holocaust.”
The flubs come after Mr. Biden made headlines earlier this month for apparently reading teleprompter directions out loud.
“End of quote. Repeat the line,” Mr. Biden said while ticking off the actions his administration was planning in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons said Mr. Biden had finished quoting the Supreme Court majority opinion when he said “end of quote,” and said, “let me repeat the line” to emphasize “that American women should let their voices be heard.”
“The desperation from critics reflects only on them, and their disregard for a core American freedom that was just taken away,” Ms. Simons said in a statement to The Washington Times.
Robert Rowland, who teaches presidential rhetoric at the University of Kansas, called the slip ups “disquieting” and attributed the blunders to fatigue during a busy overseas trip and lack of teleprompter training.
“It adds on to what people are already thinking and most people on the left really want another candidate in 2024,” he said.