Mondale: Obama should ‘get rid of those teleprompters, and connect’

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Walter Mondale told the New Yorker that he sees similarities between the Obama and Carter administrations — but while Carter was voted out after four years, Mondale sees a way for Obama to learn from history and win a second term.

Mondale, who was vice president at the time, saw first-hand a White House that could count some legislative successes but couldn’t find a way to solve a larger economic crisis. Much like this White House.

As the economy was ravaged by what was known as “stagflation,” he said, the public “just turned against us—same as with Obama.” He went on, “People think the President is the only one who can fix their problems. And, if he doesn’t produce solutions, I’m telling you—when a person loses a job, or can’t feed his family, or can’t keep his house, he is no longer rational. They become angry, they strike out—and that’s what we have now. If you’re President, they say, ‘Do something!’”


Mondale recalled that President Carter, as his standing in the polls slid, “began to lose confidence in his ability to move the public.” The President, he said, should have “got out front earlier with the bad news and addressed the people more.” He sees a similar problem with Obama: “I think he needs to get rid of those teleprompters, and connect. He’s smart as hell. He can do it. Look right into those cameras and tell people he’s hurting right along with them.” Carter, on the other hand, he said, might not have been able to. “At heart, he was an engineer,” Mondale said. “He wanted to sit down and come up with the right answers, and then explain it. He didn’t like to do a lot of emotional public speaking.”

Mondale’s memoir, The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics, releases in two weeks.

Read the New Yorker’s full report on Mondale here.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Shirley Gallagher on 09/20/2010 - 12:08 pm.

    This is sad, Walter Mondale is trying to sale books. If the Teleprompter comment is all he got, his book will collect dust before its sold.

  2. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 09/20/2010 - 12:26 pm.

    There’s not much substance here. As Fritz used to like to say, “Where’s the beef?” Mondale is about the last person who should talk about connecting with the people. He barely carried his home state when he ran for POTUS. And later he failed in his attempt to win back his old Senate seat. That’s real connecting, Fritz.

  3. Submitted by Hénock Gugsa on 09/20/2010 - 08:35 pm.

    I agree with both Shirley and Hal, the commenters above.

    I don’t think Mr. Mondale has much credibility here. He is a nice man and all; but truly, he is neither an expert in communication nor a public displayer of empathy himself.

    The truly ideal person to be listened to right now is Bill Clinton. Even blindfolded, he can lead Obama out of a desert awash with quicksand. Now really is the time to seek and to follow Mr. Clinton’s advice!

  4. Submitted by Steve Rose on 09/21/2010 - 08:41 am.

    I find it comical that President Obama has two teleprompters set up in an elementary school classroom to talk with children.

    President Bush made his share or more than his share of verbal miscues, but he was talking not reading.

    I agree with Fritz that President Obama is not connecting. But, who am I to judge? Like Fritz, I am not a great communicator. As the commenters above noted, Fritz is not qualified to judge.

  5. Submitted by sean mckenna on 09/21/2010 - 11:32 am.

    Poor Wally. He’s been irrelevant for 25 years.

  6. Submitted by Steve Rose on 09/21/2010 - 08:42 pm.

    I do business with people in the UK. They find the TelePrompTers hilarious. I think it is embarrassing.

  7. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/22/2010 - 01:20 am.

    Fritz, too, is smart as hell, and a Minnesota treasure. For those who have forgotten he played a key role in this state for half a century. He’s had a long time to reflect not only on the mistakes but on the successes. I’d like to read his book.

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