Mike Huckabee had the best body language in the recent Republican presidential debate, according to Tonya Reiman, Bill O’Reilly’s body language expert.
“Mike Huckabee comes across to me as very genuine,” Reiman tells Newsmax. “He seemed very comfortable, natural. I didn’t find too many problems — some shrugs here and there—but his body language overall was probably the best out of all of these candidates.”
While Mitt Romney has the presidential look, he blew it this time around, Reiman says.
“Romney showed a lot of underlying sarcasm, which could have come across as being patronizing,” she says. “I noticed a lot of finger pointing, and he didn’t make eye contact that often or that well with a lot of the people he spoke to. Instead of showing annoyance, he seemed to be trying to put that little smile on his face, and that wound up coming across very strongly as a smirk. I’m not sure if he was trying to make it look like a genuine smile and that was impossible, or else he was masking some annoyance.”
While Rudy Giuliani came across as a “down-to-earth New Yorker,” he didn’t do much better than Romney, with whom he “clunked heads,” Reiman says.
“The problem with Giuliani is that he sticks his tongue out of his mouth so often that it becomes so unappealing,” Reiman says. “He licks his lips constantly. It just gives people this feeling of unease. He did a couple of tongue protrusions, which again is just really unattractive, especially for a presidential candidate.”
Giuliani’s practice of jotting down notes also was problematic.
“You’re up there, and you need to be able to keep your thoughts in gear,” Reiman says. “If you and I are having a dialogue, I want you to have the respect of seeing my eyes when you’re responding to whatever I’ve accused you of. I found the note-taking to be slightly offensive.”
Reiman’s book, “The Power of Body Language: How to Succeed in Every Business and Social Encounter,” has just come out. She appears every Mondays on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.” [Editor's Note: Get Tonya Reiman’s book, “The Power of Body Language: How to Succeed in Every Business and Social Encounter” — go here now.]
In general, people should be expressive in their body language, Reiman says. When Tom Tancredo was discussing illegal immigration, he used very strong, expressive body language, she says, but otherwise his performance was not noteworthy.
John McCain doesn’t have enough movement, either, Reiman says.
“He’s the least emotive of all the candidates,” she says. “He blinks rapidly. I find that he blinks more often when he’s trying to talk positively about himself. He also tends to mask anger. At certain points when someone says something that he gets upset about, there’s that mask of anger . And whether it’s a smirky grin or the tightness that you see in his face, he just doesn’t seem to come across as emotive enough.”
While people like expression and animation, Reiman says, body language must be positive. As an example of negative body language, Romney agreed that a statement was “absolutely right” while shaking his head no.
“It seems like there’s an inward conflict, like he’s not a hundred percent sure, not willing to commit to anything,” she says of Romney.
Fred Thompson also did not come across well. Like Giuliani, Thompson’s tongue is “always out of his mouth,” Reiman says of the candidate David Broder recently described as appearing “perpetually grumpy.”
“Height is really significant,” Reiman says. “Unfortunately, we as Americans look to height as being in tandem with power, in tandem with credibility. But height didn’t work well for Thompson either which way. He kind of hunches over a little bit, and he licks his lips too much. He was so fidgety, either playing with his pen or moving his legs around.”
Ron Paul came across as very sincere. However, “He’s just not that powerful. He does the inward lip roll,” Reiman says. “He kind of looks like he’s taking a step back when people are talking to him. He’s so sincere, and you could tell he’s sincere, but he doesn’t have powerful body language.”
Reiman emphasizes that her observations pertain to what people perceive from body language rather than what is really going on inside.
“Because Mitt Romney is smirking doesn’t mean that he’s feeling sarcastic every minute that he’s smirking,” she says. “The problem is that’s how people are going to unconsciously perceive him. And his whole thinking was probably just, well let’s see, what is the lesser of two evils: Do I sit here with an angry expression on my face and let everybody know that he just upset me, or do I try to mask that anger by putting on what I think looks like a genuine smile?”
While Huckabee won the debate from a body language standpoint, Reiman says Hillary Clinton so far has had the best body language among the presidential contenders.
“Hillary has looked to me powerful and confident and at times nurturing,” Reiman told Newsmax for a Nov. 26 story.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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