Donald Trump declared the “shackles have been taken off” as Republicans began defecting in the wake of his boasts about sexual assault. Friday evening, during a Charlotte, North Carolina, speech, he turned the metaphor into reality, personally dismantling his teleprompters after they malfunctioned.
“These teleprompters haven’t been working for the last 20 minutes,” Trump complained. “And I actually like my speech better without teleprompters.”
The Republican nominee then proceeded to move a teleprompter out of his line of sight. “You know what? I like it better without the teleprompter. Get this thing outta here, will you.”
After ranting that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton reads her speeches from the biggest teleprompters and then goes home to sleep, Trump returned to his own technical problems.
“So, here’s the story,” Trump said after taking the teleprompters apart. “Here’s the way I work. Here’s the way government works. So, the teleprompter’s a bummer. It doesn’t work. That means the company doing the teleprompter is in the back. That means they didn’t do a good job. So I won’t pay them.”
Trump then pivoted from the teleprompter malfunction into an attack on the media, “And tomorrow I’ll have a story in the newspaper: ‘Donald Trump did not pay a contractor who put up the teleprompters.’ Well why should I? They don’t work. And they’ll make me like I’m a bad guy like I’m a bad person.”
During the primary campaign, Trump ridiculed Republican opponents for using teleprompters. After winning the GOP nomination, Trump’s campaign decided teleprompters were necessary to keep the famously impatient and rambling Trump on topic and on message. He began giving listless performances while misreading words that flashed across the screens.
Without the teleprompters, Trump went back to the free-association talking that characterized him during the primary.
He launched into a pitch for his new Trump International Hotel in Washington. He attacked the air-conditioning manufacturer Carrier for moving its factories to Mexico. He talked about former primary rival Jeb Bush’s “low energy.” He complained about other primary rivals failing to abide by the Republican National Committee’s pledge to support the eventual nominee.
And then he encountered further technical problems. The crowd started to shout that they couldn’t hear him. One of the loudspeakers had quit working.
“You know whoever runs this place is not doing very well,” Trump said. “Do you hear me over there? Great job fellas! So now we don’t have to pay for this and now we don’t have to pay for that. Man! Who the hell runs this place?”
“They say the speakers don’t work and I was having so much fun without these damn teleprompters.”
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Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.