President Trump on Friday blamed a malfunctioning teleprompter for a gaffe in his Independence Day speech in which he mistakenly said the Army took over airports during the American Revolution and seemed to confuse that war with the War of 1812.
Trump told reporters outside the White House that the teleprompter went “kaput” at times during his speech.
“And I guess the rain knocked out the teleprompter,” he said. “I knew the speech very well. So I was able to do without a teleprompter, but the teleprompter did go out and it was actually hard to look at anyway because [there] was rain all over it.”
Trump, whose nonpartisan speech generally received positive reviews despite Democrats' concerns that it would be political in nature, was nevertheless teased over the apparently ad-libbed part in which he described how the Army manned air defenses in 1775.
"Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory,” he said. “And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant."
Not only were airplanes -- and by extension, airports -- nowhere close to being invented at that stage in American history, but the battle at Fort McHenry was waged during the War of 1812. This was also when the national anthem, which that section of the speech referenced, was written.
On Twitter, the hashtag #RevolutionaryWarAirports swiftly trended, with many a Twitter wag making mockup images showing the rebels taking airports from the Crown.
Some journalists, meanwhile, took the (perhaps unnecessary) step of issuing “fact-checks” on whether there were in fact airports during the Revolutionary War. CNN reporter and Trump antagonist Jim Acosta cited the National Park Service in reporting that the first flight wasn't until 1903.
Trump said the prompter went out right in the middle of the sentence in question.
“And that's not a good feeling when you're standing in front of millions and millions of people on television,” he said.
Despite the blip, the Fourth of July event defied the critics who said it would be a partisan political spectacle that wouldn’t attract a crowd. Trump struck a patriotic, nonpartisan note during his address, while the Lincoln Memorial grounds were packed with a massive crowd.
Trump said Friday the evening was “fantastic.”
“Despite the rain that was just a fantastic evening. I think people really liked it," he said, adding that he believes it will be a great recruitment moment for America's armed services.
Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly contributed to this report.