Mondale: Obama is ‘brilliant’ but needs to lose the ‘idiot boards’
Former Vice President Walter Mondale has some advice for President Barack Obama: spend less time using the teleprompter and more time talking directly to the American people.
Appearing on CNN Monday, Mondale asserted that Obama needs to connect with the American people if he wants to avoid being a one-term president like Jimmy Carter.
“I think he’s going to be a two-term president,” said Mondale “But there’s a lot of problems weighing on this administration. I think it depends on how he handles all of them, but I think that he’s — he’s going to make it through the second term. It looks that way to me now.”
“He’s got to — the American people have to feel that the president senses and — the suffering they’re going through and wants to be a part of the solution.”
Obama would do well to meet with Americans in small personal groups like the backyard events he has recently been doing, according to Mondale.
Obama has held two such backyard events in recent weeks. NPR reported:
President Obama made headlines with his splashy outdoor rally in Wisconsin that drew more than 20,000 people on Tuesday. But most of Obama’s campaigning this week has been in more intimate settings, talking with just a few dozen people gathered in a neighbor’s yard.
Obama held two more of these “backyard conversations” on Wednesday — in Iowa and Virginia. The seemingly informal sessions are carefully staged, but sometimes they do give voters a more personal glimpse of the president.
The backdrops vary. A string of dried chili peppers in New Mexico; a Drake University Bulldogs banner in Des Moines, Iowa. But from Albuquerque to Richmond, Va., the overall scene is similar: Obama, standing in shirtsleeves with a cordless microphone, talking to a small crowd of people. Often, they are outdoors, sitting on plastic lawn chairs.
“He’s not showing — he’s not feeling people’s pain the way Bill Clinton was capable of feeling pain, the empathy — empathy factor,” said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Why is that? Why do you think he’s not capable, at least so far, of really doing that?”
“Well, I’ve seen places when he’s done it,” replied Mondale. “I — but I think he — he’s very bright. Matter of fact, brilliant. And I think he tends to — and he uses these idiot boards to read speeches in television, and I think he loses the connection that he needs emotionally with American voters.”
“You’re talking about the teleprompters that he always has when he’s delivering a formal speech,” explained Blitzer.
“Right,” agreed Mondale.
“You don’t think that works. Is that what you’re saying?” Blitzer asked.
“Yes,” Mondale replied. I think that, you know, if you’re looking at the teleprompter, you’re here, you’re here, you’re here. And you’re — your audience is right there. And I think he needs to do more of that.”
But it’s not clear that Mondale’s call to curb the use of teleprompters is having an effect on the administration.
Mondale will be introducing Vice President Joe Biden at a rally for Mark Dayton tomorrow in St. Paul, Minnesota. Teleprompters will be present, a source said.