Donald Trump Using A Teleprompter Is A Telltale Sign He's Worried About This

This last week has been pretty rough for Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. Not that he has anyone to blame but himself ― following the release of documents relating to the ongoing Trump University class action lawsuit, the famously belligerent businessman turned his ire on the man presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, with explicitly racist attacks on his impartiality. Also, he got ethered by Hillary Clinton in a major foreign policy speech. And how can you can tell Donald Trump is worried about facing Hillary Clinton? While trying to tamp down the controversy and respond to her searing attacks on Tuesday night, Trump decided to read his speech ― that's right ― off of a teleprompter.

If you didn't know ahead of time that the typically unscripted and boisterous businessman was reading from a script ― and indeed, reading it off one of the devices he's mocked Clinton for using ― then you probably figured it out when you heard him start to speak, because it barely even sounded like Trump at all. Gone was the sputtering bluster, the bellowing, and the trademark turns-of-phrase, replaced by a fairly standard-issue Republican speech spoken in Trump's raspy, immediately recognizable voice. It was most similar to his March speech to AIPAC, which he also read off a teleprompter.

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To be clear, there's nothing inherently wrong with reading off a teleprompter. Politicians and presidential candidates alike are typically busy enough that memorizing all their speeches might not be the most efficient use of time. President Obama, in particular, has absorbed a lot of unfair taunting form conservatives about his teleprompter use.

But it's a particularly galling change of pace for Trump specifically, considering that he's taunted his political adversaries for using teleprompters before. It's also a sure sign that people within his campaign are trying to reign in his famed unpredictability, and it's an open question whether there's a viable compromise position that still retains his straight-shooting appeal. Whatever you think of Trump's views, his slightly hectic, free-flowing style of speaking projects the sense that he's revealing his genuine thoughts and feelings. Sometimes those thoughts or feelings might be deeply ugly, but it's still a core aspect of his campaign that's gotten him this far.

Basically, the fact that Trump would make this move when he clearly doesn't like talking off a prompter ― if he did enjoy it, well, he's Donald Trump, so he'd be doing it all the time ― lays bare that he's being pressured from inside to moderate himself and behave more respectably. Perhaps it's a reaction to the Curiel fracas, and perhaps it's a reaction to the distinct seriousness deficit he faces against Clinton. But in any case, this much is clear: something shook Donald Trump this week, badly enough to send him fleeing to the prompter.