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Body language expert on fourth Republican presidential debate: Who won and who was a ‘trainwreck’?


WASHINGTON – The two frontrunners in the Republican presidential debate seemed to have learned from criticism of their past performances , while those trailing behind returned with the same energy and strategy, body language expert Greg Hartley told The Post. Nikki Haley won the debate Wednesday, at least when it comes to body language, the expert said as the former UN ambassador appeared calm, cool and collected while on the debate stage – a noticeable shift from past performances where she was more “reactive” to her challengers’ attacks. “She did better across the board than the other folks,” he said.

“But it’s not because she was brilliant. It’s because she was contained. ” While in previous debates the former South Carolina governor had heated reactions to attacks, particularly from rival Vivek Ramaswamy, she held her ground during the fourth debate.

Not just with her words, but with her actions, Hartley said. “She had been very emotional about people attacking her,” the former Army interrogator said. “I think probably she had to take some of that under advisement and say, ‘Hey, don’t respond so aggressively when somebody attacks you.

‘” “Who knows why? Did Trump call her and say, ‘Be nice and I’ll take care of you. ’ Who knows with those folks,” he added. Haley came to the stage fresh off of a steady rise in her polling numbers since the last debate, and with that came a more confident – if less firey – approach, Hartley said.

Coming into the debate, she was polling third at roughly 10%, placing her in third behind former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis was polling at about 13.

5% ahead of the debate, but that could change after his Wednesday performance. “The train wreck on the stage to me – and I hate to say this – was DeSantis,” Hartley said. “He doesn’t know what to do, and he’s not a dumb guy, but he is not comfortable in his own skin.

” Hartley noticed DeSantis’ “constant fidgeting,” pointing out that he often rubbed his thighs during the debate, which he said is a key indicator of “nervous energy. ” The governor also continued his habit of punctuating his words with head movements, though it appeared that he was trying to avoid the peculiar tendency in the debate’s early moments. “If you notice, most people when they’re illustrating their hands are somewhere between their chin and their navel and they’re moving their hands around a lot,” Hartley said.

“He did a fair amount of that until he got to points he’s very passionate about, and then he went right back to this head thing. ” Comparing him to a “pigeon because he moves his head so much,” Hartley said the movement betrays the solid, strong leader image his campaign has projected. “It’s hard to look [like an] authoritarian, powerful leader when you’re bobbing your head as much as he does,” Hartley said.

“He needs a coach badly. People win and lose elections based on their appearance. ” As for entrepreneur Ramaswamy and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, they presented very similarly to their previous performances dating back to July, Hartley said.

For Ramaswamy, that meant he appeared confident when delivering his campaign messages but weak when attacking fellow candidates. As he delivered messages on his key issues, Ramaswamy’s “fingers and thumbs were separated,” which Hartley said indicates confidence. “It shows he’s sending forth [a message] that he’s not worried about how it’s being perceived,” he said.

But when Ramaswamy returned to his pattern of attacking fellow candidates on the stage, Hartley noticed a change in the way he held his hands that can be attributed to nerves or weakness. “When you watch him attacking Nikki Haley, his fingers close, his hands ball up,” he said. “So he knows that might be perceived as poor whether it’s consciously known or subconsciously known his body is sending a message.

” Harley said Ramaswamy may be aware of how his attacks come across to viewers, noting that the youngest candidate is “Trump without the amusement. ” “By that I mean that he’s got all the same nasty little attacks, but whatever his message is, it’s missing the amusement factor of Trump,” he said. “So Trump is the same guy, he attacks – but he’s funny to people who are drawn to that.

” “Ramaswamy is missing that. There’s no humor in it at all, so it comes across as mean,” he added. Meanwhile, Chris Christie continued his habit of slumping over his podium as he spoke, the expert said, only infusing “energy” when he attacked Trump, who did not show up for the debate.

“Christie is old, and I don’t mean that age-wise. He’s old politics,” Hartley said. “I think he’s out of touch with what’s going on just by watching his body behavior on the podium.

” Christie’s slouching and heavy leans on the lectern may be partly “because he’s a big guy,” Hartley said, “but the only time I saw any real energy from him was when he was critiquing Trump. ” Hartley said he also saw “good passion” from Christie when he was defending Haley against attacks by Ramaswamy, another indicator of his “old politics,” Hartley said. A longtime politico and debate pro, Christie’s body language indicated few nerves, though at times he would press his fingers to his face, which Hartley said is an indicator of stress.

“The only times I saw him press on his face, were when Nikki Haley was being attacked or when people were yelling at each other,” he said. “It felt like there’s a reach for him to try to get some kind of control. ”.

From: nypost

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