Among the many accolades heaped on Barack Obama by his cheer squad is that “he’s a great orator”.
It’s worth noting that before Obama makes one of his rehearsed speeches, his assistant Reggie Love sets up two teleprompters, adjusted to his boss’s height (184cm), with one prompt on the left and one on the right.
This is probably why Obama, when speaking, rarely looks straight ahead, but rather to the left and then to the right, giving the impression he’s scanning the audience in an inclusive manner.
However, when he is required to ad-lib, answering questions from reporters, it’s a different scenario. He always ums and ahs and needs a number of pregnant pauses, searching for the “right” word.
Why is this so important? Elections can and have been lost, following the so-called “great” debates. There are no teleprompters in debates.
While McCain is no Ronald Reagan as a speaker, he can ad-lib. While the public is unhappy with the Iraq war, but relieved that the surge is working, they are very concerned about security from terrorists.
Obama has not articulated his plan in this regard.
So, during a debate, if he’s going to um and ah, searching for words, McCain will make him look incompetent and at a loss for a plan to protect the public, regarding one of its biggest worries.