CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Just days after saying he was freed from supposed “shackles,” Donald Trump abruptly removed his teleprompter in the middle of a Friday night rally here, saying it would be “cooler” to speak without them.
Appearing in his second rally of the day in this key battleground state, the Republican presidential nominee was delivering prepared remarks attacking Democratic rival Hillary Clinton over a litany of revelations from leaked emailed posted by WikiLeaks.
But as he is prone to do, Trump began speaking extemporaneously early in the speech to a few thousand people here. Among other things, he called for a boycott of an issue of People magazine featuring an account from a reporter who accused him of inappropriate behavior, and he suggested that those leveling charges against him were doing so for “financial reasons” or “a small handful of personal fame.” An increasing wave of women, including two more earlier in the day on Friday, have been coming forward with past allegations of sexual misconduct, including assault.
About 20 minutes into his Charlotte appearance, Trump without explanation suddenly leaned forward and physically removed one of the teleprompter screens — prompting a shout of approval from the crowd. Then, a few seconds later, he removed another — making a face at the audience through the glass screen.
“I like them. They are fine, but it’s cooler without it,” Trump declared. “I like it so much better without them.”
Throughout his unlikely campaign, the celebrity businessman and former reality television star has routinely mocked his political rivals including Clinton for reading scripted lines at events. But after a free fall in the polls in August precipitated a campaign shakeup, including the hiring of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Trump began using the device he once criticized in nearly every public appearance.
It was unclear what precipitated the move. Through Trump suggested he removed the equipment because he wanted to speak freely, the GOP candidate later complained that he would not pay the company his campaign had hired to operate the device because it was broken.
As Trump broke away from his prepared remarks, Conway, who was traveling with the candidate, happened to walk through the media area. She told reporters he was skipping the script “at least for this rally.”
Asked if this was a permanent move, Conway replied, “Who knows?”