Biden’s State of the Union prep: No acronyms or tips for beating a stutter
“I’ve learned so much from coping with stuttering,” Biden said in a 2016 speech at an American Institute for Stuttering gala. “It gave me insight into other people’s pain.”
When Mr. Biden met a young boy named Brayden Harrington in a rope on the 2020 election campaign, Mr. Biden was told the boy was stuttering and quickly invited him backstage for a chat. Mr Biden recommended Brayden read a book by one of his favorite Irish poets, William Butler Yeats, to help him envision the speech as a poem. He also showed her the notes he had used for the day’s talk.
“After every couple of lines or words, he would draw a downward line, a blank space between the words, and that would tell him to catch his breath,” Brayden, 15, said in an interview. He added that when they first met, Mr Biden “looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Oh man, your imperfections are your gifts.'”
As president, Mr Biden frequently describes his stuttering as part of a painful past to which he will not return. “It can’t define you. It won’t define you. Period,” he said at a November campaign event in California, after seeing someone in the audience hold up a sign that read, “Thank you for stuttering.
Like most White House traditions, the State of the Union address takes on the personality of the man delivering the speech. So make the preparations.
Most modern presidents take notes on their important speeches. President Ronald Reagan made “hash marks” to break up his speeches into 30-second chunks. President George W. Bush, who was not known as a strong public speaker, practiced with small note cards and underlined words to emphasize them. President Barack Obama worked with writers – including one he gave the lofty nickname, “Hemingway” – and then rewrote the entire speech in his own handwriting. President Donald J. Trump claimed he wrote down all his speeches (he didn’t) and then scribbled down edits with a Sharpie.
In the Biden White House, once a workable State of the Union draft has been created — after several rounds of preparation between Mr. Biden and his team — a larger group of aides are involved in the process. . Video released by the White House last year showed several of Mr. Biden’s closest aides, including Ms. Dunn; Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director; and Jen Psaki, the former White House press secretary, reviewing the material and taking notes.