Keller @ Large: Analyzing Body Language Of Perry, Romney, Cain During Debate

BOSTON (CBS) – The Republican candidates said volumes without saying a word during Tuesday night’s debate.

WBZ’s Jon Keller and body language expert Don Khory took a closer look at the body language of the presidential hopefuls.

According to body language experts, we can learn even more from the way they look and react than we can from their rhetoric.

Khoury said the key to this and any other debate isn’t what the candidates say, but how they say it, and how they react to what others say.

Watch Keller @ Large:


“Reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under (Herman Cain’s tax) plan,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said in the debate.

When Santorum went after Cain’s 9-9-9 tax-reform plan, Khoury saw trouble in Cain’s body language.

“He’s leaking nervousness, he’s leaking fear, a number of things… He’s going to start to falter,” said Khoury.


Khory said the dust-up with Mitt Romney was a disaster for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, starting when Romney grabbed his arm.

“He’s demeaning Perry, ‘Little boy, let me tell you how it is. Let me guide you through this,'” said Khoury.

Perry then pointed his finger at Romney.

“He quickly pulled the finger back because he knew he shouldn’t have been pointing the finger at him,” said Khoury. “You can point a finger at third parties and inanimate objects, or at institutions, but never point the finger at a person because that makes you look bad.”


Romney was not without his bad body-language moments.

“He’s getting frustrated. This interlocking of the fingers would show frustration. The higher up you go would indicate the more frustrated you are,” said Khoury.

All in all though, Romney performed well, according to Khoury.

“(Romney) conveys a certain amount of intellect. He conveys a certain amount of transparency. He conveys that he’s actually thought a lot of these things through and he believes much of what he says,” said Khoury.

Khoury gives very high marks for body language to a candidate who wasn’t at the debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night: former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. In fact, he predicts the New Hampshire primary will come down to a Romney-Huntsman battle.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • Tsal

    Cain had good reason to be nervous – his entire plan is going down the drain. The only good thing about him is that he showed a flat tax won’t work – unless of course you support even more breaks for the wealthy. As Gregory said on Sunday according to impartial economists the fact that poor will pay more and rich will pay less is irrefutable As far as pointing one of my moms best lines when we pointed is the only thing you ever point with is your nose. I still have no idea what it meant but I’ve never pointed since so it apparently worked

  • Italo

    Whenever I watch, listen to, or think of the past Mass. governor tenure of Mitt Romney, I feel as if I need to visit the hardware section of a Sears Department Store to buy something, because I think of him as always coming across as such a tool.

  • tsal

    Interesting Jon in that I see Romney and Huntsman as the only two even remotely capable of being president. The debates tend to take people off my radar rather than put them on which may be backwards but there isn’t a whole lot of good to choose from. Perry was never on my radar – I consider him lethal. Bachmann may mean well but she’s basically a parrot and when she tries to speak on her own gets in trouble. Cain as I said has served his purpose to show that a flat tax does not work. Paul intrigues me as does Huntsman but I still have more to learn about them. Romney may be the devil you know. I think he, unlike many of the others, sincerely cares about this country and he can change his view which I admire.

    • roudydowdy

      What I would like to know about Mitt Romney is why doesn’t his head bob up and down a little when he walks. All human heads bob up and down a little when she or he walks except for Mitt Romney’s. I don’t think that this should preclude him from becoming president of the U.S. but we should look over his birth certificate very carefully (particularly with regard to planet of origin) if he gets the nomination.

  • fac

    Body language is very important, but do you think Mitt Romney and other candidates don’t know this too? Just as a person can improve their verbal communication skills, one can improve their non-verbal communication skills. I’m sure they are coached by body language professionals. It may be a question of who is a better student/actor.

  • andyme

    tsal, Romney, Huntsman, Newt anyone of these folks would be far better than the “Great Divider” that we have in the White House today. Romney is clearly the one to beat and he will beat Barak Hussein Obama next year. If not I am afraid our country is heading in a endless abyss!

    • tsal

      And you are very welcome to your opinion. Personally, I am not looking forward to the continued push of wealth to the top and the continued movement of the middle class to below poverty level. It seems the majority of Americans might agree since an overwhelming percent want a millionaires tax. Too bad the GOP candidates are not hearing that. With any luck at least one will grow some and realize signing that pledge was ludicrous.

  • tsal

    If the candidates don’t stop shooting themselves in the foot, there won’t be any left standing come November 2012. Romney’s video with regard to Perry was idiocy and I like Romney and can’t stand Perry so it’s going some for me to think it was in poor taste. Santorum’s rant on gays and then on repealing funding for contraception just knocked him off my radar – what a fool.

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