The Curse of the Malfunctioning Telemprompter

September 2008
The Denver Post reports that Governor Bill Ritter got hit with the curse of the malfunctioning telemprompter during his speech at Invesco Field last week.
"It was working, and then it just went bonkers," Ritter said. "It started scrolling about a thousand times faster than normal. "It finally came back on for the last line of the speech. In between then, all it said was, 'Hello, I'm Congressman Ed Perlmutter.' "
According to media reports, the same thing happened to Rudy Giuliani and Governor Sarah Palin last night in Minneapolis, causing her to ad-lib some of her statements. While it did sound like the speech was written by two different writers at times, I couldn't tell she was ad-libbing. I just assumed she had made some add-ons to the speech, since the McCain campaign announced that it had prepared the vice presidential candidate's acceptance speech before knowing she would be the nominee, and that she would be making changes to suit her personality and gender.
As for the speech itself, [McCain campaign manager Rick] Davis said a generic, "masculine" speech was being prepared before the pick was made and, now that Palin is the choice, she is adapting the speech to her own needs and personality.
Most people probably didn't notice the malfunctioning teleprompter. And while there were no obvious glitches in Palin's speech last night, it's interesting to look at some of the lines she ad-libbed that weren't in her prepared text. Here's one, according to the Wall St. Journal Blog:
"You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."
While the Journal thought it was one of her best lines of the night, I winced when I heard it and thought it was a terrible line. I immediately thought it was one of the lines she added to the prepared speech. Whatever you thought of the ad-libs, I'm glad for the curse of the malfunctioning teleprompter. It gives us a chance to see the candidates and other politicians behind the campaign makeovers and get a glimpse of the real person. (Update: Some are now saying the teleprompter didn't malfunction; it just got ahead of itself by not stopping during applause lines. Either way, the effect is the same: It causes the candidate to shoot from the hip.)