Former Obama speechwriters slam Trump's 'riffing' speech style


Former speechwriters for the Obama White House have spoken out against President Trump's informal speaking style.

The comments were made at a Harvard Institute of Politics event called 'The Art of White House Speechwriting' which took place on Wednesday.

After a student asked if Trump's more improvisational speeches are likely to influence political speechwriting going forward, Cody Keenan, Obama's top speechwriter, said about the current president, "He's certainly not the first person to try to wear the mantle of populism and riff from whatever comes to his mind."

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Keenan continued, "I don't think it's a great idea to just get up there and riff when you have no idea what you're talking about. But I also don't think it's a harbinger of a new age."

He also said, "The reason we write things down is to organize our ideas in a fluid way...I would recommend that the president do that."

Sarah Hurwitz, who was Michelle Obama's chief speechwriter, followed up by saying, "I would agree with that. I also think that there is a misunderstanding that if you're riffing, saying the first random thing that comes to your mind, you're somehow more authentic."

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She later added, "I think that the Obamas, President Bush...they put a lot of effort into making sure what they got up and said was what they exactly wanted to say...I don't think that made them less authentic, I think it may them more so."

A Carnegie Mellon paper analyzing speech patterns among 2016 U.S. presidential candidates found that Trump's words and grammar tend to "lag behind the others."