July 24th, 2007
01:40 PM ET
4 years ago

Clinton wins body language battle, one expert says

(CNN) - Sure, what the candidates say is important, but body language can also make an important impression on voters.

A body language expert, Jo Ellan Dimitrius, studied all of the candidates throughout the two-hour debate and decided that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, won the battle of the body language. Sen. Clinton stood confidently behind the podium and kept her hands on top of the lectern, rather than nervously grabbing onto the sides, Dimitrius observed.

According to Dimitrius, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, also had a strong performance by using confident hand gestures and keeping consistent eye contact with the audience.

During the questions about gay marriage, former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, had a nervous look, and he put his hands in his pockets, which is also a classic sign of nervousness, Dimitrius said.

– CNN Producer Ted Metzger


Filed under: CNN/YouTube Debate
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Zach, Atlanta, Georgia

    Shouldn't the differences between a male and female also be taken into consideration in this?

    July 24, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. Scott L., Fort Walton Beach, FL

    Quote from an earlier post:
    Fantastic. I’m glad that now we’re picking candidates based on body language rather than their words and records.

    Bravo CNN, you’re continued lowering of the news, editorial, and political bar seems to know no bounds.

    Posted By J. Scott : July 23, 2007 10:58 pm
    End Quote

    This really was unnecessary.

    CNN reports on a number of stories every day. Yes, some of them might be a little off the beaten path, but I believe that this one is important.

    Regardless of political affiliations, I would rather have a someone leading this country who was confident and strong. Anyone can learn to talk like that, but our individual subconscious habits (fidgeting, rocking back and forth during a presentation, etc.) are much harder to control. By being in control of those subconscious habits, people are creating an outward display in their own inner confidence.

    Don't just assume that words mean everything.
    Ever heard the saying: "Actions speak louder than words"?

    As for the article: I agree that Clinton definitely appeared the more "professional" of the candidates, and am looking forward to the Republican version of the debate.

    July 24, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    As usual, the replies here are all over the map as to who won and why they're convinced that their candidate is the best. Those of us who are open minded will wait for the process to unwind abit further. Otherwise, you might as well start early voting now.

    We don't really have true statesmen(or women) running for office. Ever notice how senators and representatives typically are unable to achieve the presidency? Governors are much more likely to be elected president due to their executive experience and having to actually be responsible for their state while in office.

    It scares me to death that people see someone with 2 years of senate duty as being experienced enough to be president or that a rich ambulance chaser could actually try to pawn himself off as one of the common folk.

    Personally, I would like to see a competent business person try their hand at leading this country. We elected one as governor here in TN (Bredesen-Democrat)and he has done an incredible job of not only getting things done, but of crossing party lines in a common sense fashion.

    In any case, hope everyone keeps an open mind as the campaign trudges on for the next 15 months.

    July 24, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Louise...Tahlequah, OK

    Oh please....the cameramen didn't realize that many times their cameras showed the raised platform that Hillary was standing on behind her podium.

    July 24, 2007 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Brian, Durham, NC

    CNN=Clinton News Network end of story!

    July 24, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Wallace, Chicago, Illinois

    HEY! - Bruce, Franklin, TN

    Be careful. Our current president was the Governor of Texas with a "wealth" of business and political experience. Change is what we need.

    Also, keep in mind how close the primaries are in this election cycle. Several key states have moved the elections up - to January and February. It's not too early to start thinking about your candidate of choice.

    Take care. And yes, I ask that you do the same - Keep an open mind.

    July 24, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. Perry, Dallas, Texas

    So does this mean the Clinton News Network has declared Hitlery the winner of the debate?

    July 24, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Jenna M, Champaign IL

    Clinton was excellent all-the-way-around, but it was Edwards' eyes that grabbed me.

    July 24, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Bruce, Franklin, TN

    Wallace, I would disagree with the fact that Bush had a "wealth" of experience as a business person or as a politician. He was a failure as an oilman in Midland, TX and was in the right place at the right time with the Rangers. And I never felt comfortable with his limited achievemnts as governor.

    I agree that change is what we need and that's why I would advocate someone with a record of achievement in actually managing an organization. Career politicians do not give us what we need.

    July 24, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Art Hebert Largo Florida

    The American public and the citizens of the world do not want to hear mostly from the 3 leading presidential candidates (according to polls and the media) but EQUALLY from ALL the candidates. Let the American people decide in primaries who the leading candidates are. That decision will arise after giving EQUAL opportunity for responses from each and every candidate.

    July 24, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Vicki, Chicago, IL

    Yes, Hillary probably seemed the most composed. But, the body language expert apparently wasn't paying attention all of the time. For example, Hillary OFTEN stood with her hands clasped in front of her (NOT with her hands on the podium). This is a classic sign that you feel threatened and need to "protect yourself" from an attack. She was seen standing with hands clasped behind her back on several occasions. This indicates that the person is "hiding something." Finally, the body language expert said that "Obama and Clinton didn't look at or acknowledge one another, as they did with the other candidates." Again, not true. I watched the replay and Clinton specifically nodded in agreement on two answers that Obama gave.

    Finally, Hillary was the only person standing on a riser. I wonder if this was a request of her campaign, so that she would not come off as shorter than teh other candidates (and thereby portrayed, at least subconsciously, as inferior.) Or, was this CNN's planning, so that the candidates would all appear of equal height?

    July 24, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Dari Carnes, Ijamsville, MD

    Since television became a household norm, Americans stopped LISTENING to what a candidate said or political analysts' take on their "record" and now, we have come to this.....

    Who has the MOST Presidental appearance???? Not, who can best lead the country????

    And, of course, now instead of substance we receive sound bites...

    Until we stand up and say we want more, we'll get just what we deserve....

    More of the same ~ smoke & mirrors versus leadership & vision.

    July 24, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Sam (Belleville, Michigan)

    No one is saying this is the sole determining factor. Yes, it might be a little too much information, but you all act as if the answers to questions were not covered. This happens to be a vital part in any election. Think about if you are interviewing for a job. How you present yourself is important. This is important. So is everything else. This is one factor. No one said this is the end-all-be-all. So calm yourselves down.

    July 24, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Matt, Atlanta GA

    How about facial expressions. Hillary didn't like Anderson Cooper making her answer a question and not dodge it.

    I was very impressed by the way Anderson handled the debate.

    July 24, 2007 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. We love Rudi Wichita KS

    WHATEVER – There are a few types of body language that could be used to describe this debate & article. None of which would/could be shown on YouTube.

    July 24, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Kevin, Cincinnati

    In response to M. Hemmat from NY who said, "This country had an amazing 8 years during the Clinton administration and we need that again. Hillary will be able to put us back on top. The US economy is in a slump because of Bush and the Republican party. Our Dollar is the weakest it had been in 3 decades and during Clinton’s 8 years we were on Top as a nation in everyway."

    This was one of the concerns I had in earlier post in that people automatically connect economic prosperity to the Clintons and assume all will be right again with Hillary. Well, all was well because of dot-coms and inflated build up in the market and we have already off-shored a good majority of our production since then which has magnified trade defecit and it is not attributable to any political changes since Bill was in office so its hard to assume that Hillary will bring the same economic success.

    Again, I think Hillary is a polarizing figure in politics and worry that electing her will not help unite our country. As Josh from Missouri put it, "Aren’t we all Americans first and Democrats/Republicans like…fiftieth?"

    Isnt one of the biggest complaints of the Bush administration that they havent united the country and nothing can get done? How will this be any different with Hillary?

    In my opinion, Americans want change and everyone is begging not to have more of the same so I hope that people take this to heart and choose any one of the uniting figures running. I just dont believe in my heart that Hillary is one of these.

    July 24, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. Dave Meccariello

    Newsflash folks... Looking Presidential is a huge part of the battle. If you don't "Look the part", you wont get elected... (Remember Dukakis in that helmet driving a tank)It was a death nail in his campaign. He looked like a little kid playing "soldier". He couldnt sell "it" to the the public. He didnt look like a commander of anything but the "Pretender In Chief".

    Hillary Clinton needs to watch recent movies/tv shows and come off like those female "Presidents"... Or better yet, much like "M." (played by Judy Dench, brilliantly) in recent 007 films. (I.e. elegant, strong and as M said "Just because I am a woman, doesn't mean that I dont have the b*lls to handle this job")

    I agree Hillary should have worn a better jacket (Her first Executive order should be to burn that thing) but the truth is that she stood out. She looked like the President and appeared surrounded by Vice Presidential candidates.

    July 24, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Matthew. Mt. Horeb, WI

    If to win the "body language" battle you needed to seem robotic, cold, and scripted, then I guess Hillary did "win".

    July 24, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. Barbara Lou Townsend

    I agree that Hillary Clinton won the debate as far as body language and sheer belief in herself and confidence.
    I am not convinced she is what our country needs. Barack Obama cam in second as far as sheer confident body language. body language. What I like about Obama is his cool calm demeanor and "clean" vibe. I feel he comes across as someone with very good intentions particularly in the area of world leadership and diplomacy. I feel he is the only one with the intention and skills to negotiate a Middle East Peace, and to deal with the planetary bad guys. He did not hesitate when asked if he would meet with the problem leaders. I feel the other speakers were very good men but none of the others had the skills, the cool needed to be the leader of the free world. There were three speakers I was considering but then there was always some goof. One of them mumbled at times so you could not hear him especially when he was first starting up. One guy seemed like a real reformer but I didn't like his angry out of control tone. Bottom line I would pick Obama. I would be thrilled to see the first woman president but would be much happier with someone with a really squeaky clean image and someone not tainted by her husband sexcapades in the White House. I believe the Clintons are basically good people but I somehow cannot feel I could trust them.

    July 24, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. Slim to none, Las Cruces, NM

    I didn't hear any questions about
    the economy and how the US is going to
    compete world-wide with all our buddies out there~Joe Biden was the most sincere~Bill Richardson didn't know how he got to the debate,
    Hilary Clinton titled her head up looking down her nose to most questions. Is there anyone else?

    July 24, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Kimber Breaux, Los Angeles, Ca

    I have a "four point plan, five point plan" I wish all of them would just be quiet and American's for one second would actually educate themselves so they could see the media hype in all this and that politicians and CNN, all media channels etc... are out for ratings and rankings which all boil down to dollars. Where does all this money come from and what happened to the idea of public servant. And what has happened to true journalism. That might as well have been on MTV and if that is the audience you are seeking CNN then you might as well surrender now to becoming the next E channel and stop calling yourself news.

    July 24, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. H C Bork Stillwater, NJ

    This pictures makes it appear that Clinton has nothing but contempt for her opponents and the public who wanted answers from the very large field. At this time my support stays with Obama on the Democratic side and Romney on the Republican

    July 24, 2007 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. Chris, Orlando, Florida

    All of the Democrat Party candidates besides Hillary are a joke.

    Making a point that these clowns are challenging Hillary is like me challenging Shaq in one on one.

    CNN has obviously decided that Hillary Clinton is their candidate for President. That's good....I want this phony coverage and idiotic debates to continue.

    Let's see her body language when she is confronted next year by a "real" candidate with "real" executive experience (Governor/Mayor)Let's discuss all of the illegal activity and nonsense her family has gotten away with in the last 30 years......she doesn't have a prayer.

    July 24, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    All Hillary did in that debate was bash bush, something that almost everyone can get on board with these days, something she's very late getting on board with, and something that doesn't set her apart from any of the other candidates. 75% of the people in this country don't like the job he's doing. We want to know why you'll do better! Lumping yourself and all your fellow candidates together and talking about how awful bush is does not count as answering the questions well. All this propaganda about Hillary "winning" all these debates is laughable.

    Her only thoughtful response was the one about the feud between Hillary and the Edwards on who is going to look out for women's rights more, and it was a terrible response. First she did some little cheerleader routine, saying (paraphrased)"Isn't it great that the focus has become who will better serve women's rights? Isn't that just awesome?" to roaring applause. How is that an answer? She goes on to say that she has been a woman all her life and thus has been fighting for women's rights all her life. Fighting for women's rights because you yourself are a woman is extremely selfish. Fighting for women's rights even though you aren't a woman because it's the right thing to do displays not only selflessness but a general respect for all people and a yearning for equality. The whole "I'm a better soldier for women's rights because I'm a woman" argument does not work.

    The woman issue was also raised when the questioner asked about the critics who say she isn't "woman enough." She answers this by first claiming that the fact that she's a woman plays no role in her being a leader. Then she ends that response by saying that because she is a woman, if she was elected as a leader, the rest of the world would look at the United States in a more fond and respectful manner. But you just said that you being a woman makes NO DIFFERENCE, Mrs. Clinton; you can't have it both ways.

    She panders to what she thinks people want to see/hear (people called her "manly" between these two most recent debates, so she went from wearing a dark colored, business suit-like outfit to this pink, feminine thing she had on), but anyone with real experience knows that you can't please everyone, and thus you can't let what people say about you affect your opinions and appearances. She claims that what she believes is what a majority of Americans believe at any given time, just so she becomes more popular. Well I'm not falling for her obvious pandering, and it sickens me that so many people in this country are falling for it.

    July 24, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Chris Horne, Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas

    Clinton had a smug look on her face after every good response. I'm not saying she was thinking she is the best, but it really turned me off from wanting to actually vote for her. Anyone with a huge ego during a debate, much less in office, is nobody I want to vote for. I don't see how she could win the body language contest if this is my strongest memory of her during the debates.

    July 24, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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