Republicans’ War on the TelePrompter- and Its Limits
From the start of the 2012 presidential race, the most consistent — and popular — criticism of President Obama by the GOP candidates has not been on the economy, health care or foreign policy. It’s been on the incumbent’s use of a TelePrompter.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum took the TelePrompter criticism to a whole new level over the weekend by declaring that “when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a TelePrompter,” adding: “Because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.”
While Santorum seems to have taken the TelePrompter critique to its logical end, it’s former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who has made a living on the campaign trail of criticizing President Obama’s alleged reliance on the Prompter.
Dating back at least until November, Gingrich has featured a TelePrompter shot at Obama in his stump speeches around the country. “If [President Obama] wants to use a TelePrompter, that would be fine with me,” Gingrich said last fall. In his speech touting his Georgia primary victory on Super Tuesday, Gingrich gave the more-updated version of the Prompter line: “I’ve already promised that if the president will agree to seven three-hour debates in the Lincoln-Douglas tradition, he can use a TelePrompter if he wants to.”
Republican candidates rely on attacking President Obama’s use of a TelePrompter for one reason: It works. Gingrich’s Prompter line is regularly one of the biggest laugh-getters of his speech and Santorum’s “make TelePrompters illegal” line was almost certainly a planned hit not an off-the-cuff remark.
Why? Because, for Republican base voters, it epitomizes everything they dislike about President Obama. It reveals that “he’s all show,” explained Curt Anderson, a Republican media consultant who did work for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid but is now unaffiliated in the race. “All hat, no cattle.”