His excuse for one of the worst flubs he’s made on American history to date is that the teleprompter made him do it.
President Trump — who used to mock predecessor Barack Obama for using the devices during speeches — said today that technical problems with the teleprompter during his “Salute to America” led to his head-scratching remarks about the Continental Army securing not-yet existent “airports” during the Revolutionary War.
“In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified Army out of the Revolutionary Forces encamped around Boston and New York, and named after the great George Washington, commander in chief,” Trump said during his address Thursday — although the army was not named after Washington.
It then got stranger.
“Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory.”
There were no eighteenth-century airports because there were no planes.
Trump acknowledged today he had some technical problems because of the soggy conditions during his speech.
“We had a lot of rain. I stood in the rain. The teleprompter went out,” he said. “It kept going on, and then at the end, it just went out. It went kaput!”
One of those moments was in the passage about 1775, he said.
“Actually right in the middle of that sentence, it went out. And that’s not a good feeling. You’re standing in front of millions of millions of people on television and I don’t know what the final count was but that (the crowd) went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
The teleprompter screen had been “hard to look at anyway cause it was raining all over it.”
But Trump said he wasn’t letting the rain dampen his spirits about the event.
“I do the speech very well, so I was able to do it without a teleprompter, but the teleprompter did go out,” he said. “But despite the rain, that was just a fantastic evening.”
Teleprompters are sheets of glass that stand on poles in front of and to either side of a speaker.
The speech is projected onto the glass, allowing the speaker to read it without turning away from the audience.
Politicians of all stripes have used Teleprompters for decades.
But Republicans spent years criticizing Obama for leaning on the devices when he spoke rather than going off-the-cuff.
The attack carried so much weight that some Republican presidential candidates eschewed the Teleprompter altogether during the 2012 campaign season.
“If you use it now, you’re like Obama,” media strategist Fred Davis told The Washington Post in October 2011. “It’s a negative because it’s a sign of inauthenticity. It’s a sign that you can’t speak on your own two feet. It’s a sign that you have handlers behind you telling you what to say.”
Trump himself offered this criticism about Obama in 2012:
Why does @BarackObama always have to rely on teleprompters?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2012
In 2016, Trump also railed on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton tweeting: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn’t even look presidential!”