Donald Trump, who once advocated for teleprompters to be outlawed and took one apart during a North Carolina rally during the campaign, started using them late in the campaign. Will he use one again at the inauguration on January 20? He was reportedly practicing with a teleprompter for the speech. Trump did use a teleprompter during the speech, although it didn’t stop him from using his famous hand gestures during his delivery.
Associates told the USA Today that Trump practiced for the speech behind a podium and using a teleprompter. As The Washington Times points out, every president since George H.W. Bush in 1989 has used one to deliver his speech. The last president to not use a teleprompter on inauguration day was Ronald Reagan.
Trump has famously had a rocky relationship with teleprompters. He made fun of Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for using them. Politico notes that he even suggested during a 2015 campaign rally that they should be outlawed.
“These other guys, they’re going around, they make a speech in front of 21 people. Nobody cares, they read the same speech…They have teleprompters,” Trump said in August 2015. “I say we should outlaw teleprompters … for anybody running for president.”
However, as the chances of him winning the Republican nomination grew, he began to use them more often. When he delivered his foreign policy speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in April 2016, he used one. And by June, even as he derided Hillary Clinton’s use of them on Twitter, he began using them more often himself.
But it’s not like Trump suddenly liked teleprompters. He seemed to embrace them only as a matter of necessity and they didn’t stop him from trailing off from his prepared statements. In October 2016, he tried to use them to deliver a speech at a Charlotte rally, but gave up when they stopped working. He even picked one up and took it apart.
“You know what, I like it better without the teleprompters,” he told the crowd. “I notice every time I look up, they’re trying… it’s trying… it’s straining… it’s straining.”
“They’re fine, but it’s also cooler without it,” he later said after explaining how others advised him to use them.
He also struggled with a teleprompter in September 2016 during a speech at the Economic Club of New York.