Romney’s Body Language, Voice, and Speech Pattern Outshine Obama In First Debate


Before you read this blog know that I am NOT a political commentator nor am I a political person. I am objective and just report only what I see from my viewpoint and expertise as a behavioral analyst and body language and communication expert.

So before you spew out your political views and make personal attacks towards me know that I am ONLY reporting this from a BODY LANGUAGE point of view and that I have NO political agenda.

                                             THE GREETING 

It was very interesting to watch both candidates greet one another as they both used the power gesture which let the other one know that they were the one in control. As they shook hands they mutually grabbed one another’s forearms as they both smiled and looked directly into one another’s eyes. They obviously  let the other know that they were equally powerful and  self confident as you can see int he photo above.

As they began the debate  Obama did not look directly into the camera as Romeny did. When someone looks directly at their audience there is  a greater connection. 

When both candidates made there final statements Obama only looked directly into the camera for a few seconds while Romney looked directly into the camera  on a continuous basis and spoke directly to his audience.

Obama displayed signals of anxiety as he spoke as he pursed his lips and licked his lips which may have indicated he had a bit of dry mouth during the debate. When he spoke for the second time during the first section of the debate he said “uh” or “eh” a total of 15 times which distracted from his fluency in delivering his message. This may also have been a reflection of his anxiety at the beginning of the debate.

Over all throughout the debate Romneny used wider, broader  gestures  that were more away from the body which reflected more of an openness

while Obama used more closed gestures closer to his body which reflected that he was more self contained in what he was saying.

Whenever Obama spoke on behalf of Romney and laid out Romney’s views, he was slammed by Romney, who vigorously defended himself. This was not a very wise  plan on Obama’s part. Each time he was slammed by Romney, Obama looked down and had a sheepish expression on his face complete with tight lips which were  pursed and a non genuine smile of what appeared to be a “smile of embarrassment”.

Most of he time when Romney spoke, Obama did not look at him. Instead he looked down and pursed his lips which indicated tension. Even though his lips were positioned into a smile, it was not a genuine smile but rather a smirk as his lips often swung to the side.

On the other hand, whenever Obama spoke, Romney calmly looked directly at him and did not make any  extraneous negative facial movements.  

Romeny had a lot of passion in his voice and a lot of emotion as he spoke. He used a lot of varied inflection to express his points, whereas Obama did not do so.

When confronted by Romney you can see Obama look down and there is muscle tension at the side of his jaw which on several occasions was seen pulsating. This indicated  suppressed anger on Obama’s part. You can see this lower jaw tension in the photo above.

As Romney spoke, Obama not only did not look at him, he leaked out signals of anger as seen above as he pursed his lips several  times , where there is considerable muscle tension around his obicularis oris muscles around his lips.

While Romney  didn’t follow the rules of the debate and overpowered the moderator by  insisting  he  define and defend  his position when he believed he was allegedly misquoted by Obama,it did display a quality  of leadership, taking charge, and a no nonsense approach.  He also consistently enumerated  his points as #1, #2, #3, etc. which made it easier for the viewer to follow what he was trying to say.

Obama followed suit but only did this one time in the later part of the debate and only enumerated on a point 1 and point 2.

Feet can tell you a great deal about a person’s state of mind. When we look at Obamas’ feet at the podium we see that his toe is on the ground while his heel is off the ground. When a person does this it usually means that the person  wants to get out of there and they don’t want to stay. Obama was most likely subconsciously saying “Let me out of here. ” “I can’t wait until this debate is over. ”

When Romney told Obama that he picks the losers in relation to various companies he mentioned, Obama looks down in embarrassment, yet smiles a genuine smile as the apples of his cheeks are raised, his teeth are showing and his eyes are squinted as you can see above. This is a smile of truth, indicating that he acknowledges that he did indeed pick some losers.

But then his expression morphs into one of  embarrassment as he realizes that he is not happy about this point which was  brought out during this debate.

Then his expression quickly  morphs into anger as he cocks his head and jut his lower jaw and lip foreword.

When Romney confronts Obama and says that he has been in business for 25 years and doesn’t know what Obama is talking about, we see Obama raise his eyebrows  as indicated by the crinkling of his forehead in  an expression of surprise that Romney could actually say this to him. The lip pursing indicates anger at what Romeny has said.

During the last part of the debate a Romeny sets Obama straight with  the fact of what he plans to do ,Obama’s facial expression indicates that the is holding back his anger as you can see  by his severely pursing  his  lips and the  narrowing of his eyes and the  lowering of his eyebrows . He is also seen swallowing hard.

Obama gains control by taking in a  visibly large breath of air  and  abruptly exhaling to immediately  release his anger and  his tension.

But then  when Romney shared how many of those green companies supported Obama in his campaign, once again we see the “smile of embarrassment ” as Obama pulls aways from Romney’s verbal punch by  cocking  his head to the side as he leaks out  a sheepish expression.

Overall, Romeny is much more  fluent , fluid,  inflected and animated  in his speech than Obama  which makes him more appealing as a communicator in this debate as opposed to Obama who is more hesitant and staccato and exhibits more pause time  in his speaking pattern and often repeats words and interjects multiple “uhs” which breaks the flow of his communication.

In making his final statements Obama does not take advantage of speaking directly to his 40 million viewers around the world by looking directly into the camera.  He looks down and to  the side.

Romney on the other hand  made his final appeal to the public by looking right at them through the lens of the camera. He took full advantage of that opportunity.  While Romney appeared to be more relaxed and in control throughout the debate, while making his final statements he did blink excessively at times. While eye blinking is often known as a signal of deception, it can also be a signal of anxiety as well as he made his final points directly to the eye of the camera.He was passionate and dynamic in his delivery. There is also a breathy quality to his vocal pattern which is reminiscent of  Ronald Reagan as he expresses key points.

As far as body language, facial expression,voice quality, and speech pattern are concerned, Romney  clearly won this debate 

45 thoughts on “Romney’s Body Language, Voice, and Speech Pattern Outshine Obama In First Debate

  1. Thanks for explaining that. I had hunches as to what you were going to say. Really enjoy your perspective and listened to you on webslueths the other night. Looking forward to reading your new book


  2. I cant believe you got this posted so quickly. As i was watching the debates i was so hoping uou would blog about it! i agree with everything you wrote.


    1. He was stoned! Listen to the debate again when he talks about Public Funding, Big Bird,then think twice, he can hardly keep his tongue straight some times. It is called “speed,” Meth, whatever they call it when a doctor injects a billionaire!


      1. Normally, I would eschew such a notion, but he was really odd. Anyway, Romney is a liar, so who knows what the GOP are willing to do to “win”.


  3. Hi Lillian!

    So great of you to do this body language reading the 1st presidential debate. I was looking forward to your professional and spot on assessments. I also wanted to say it wad unfortunate that your friends reacted so strongly to your assessment. Politics brings out either the best or worst in people. I do agree with your entire entry. Take care.


  4. I think it is so interesting that people from our far away past can be so bizarre about politics (I’m referring to your first paragraph, wherein you write about people from grade school and high school). I too have experience this bizarre situation, where people from very long ago have opposing political views and given half a chance I’m sure they’d eat me up and spit me out. (I avoid political conversations with them!) It’s just comical that they think because they went to school with you that they have some sort of extra reason to lambaste –I guess. I can only surmise. All this said, I am an Obama supporter, but I have to admit that it was clear that Romney is the better “communicator”. Obama’s performance disappointed me. I don’t believe that Romney can do the things he says he can, I believe he is a charming, handsome “ambitious” man and very Reagan-esque. It all worked for Reagan….so it remains to be seen. I wish we could get Clinton back!


    1. Yea..a little “speed” goes a long way! The man could not even control his own eyes blinking again and again and again! I heard this for years that this happens, but he is the first that I can say..he really was shot up with a drug!


      1. Since I am on camera regularly, I am very well aware of sensitivity to bright lights. That doesn’t changes one’s body language and speech pattern. Both of these candidates have been in front of the bright light for decades so I don’t see your logic here.And as far as getting a life goes, I have a very active and beautiful one, thank God.


  5. This is a fascinating and brilliant analysis of body language! I had wondered throughout the debate what their body language was saying, it ‘felt’ to us Romney had control and was very much on his game. Thanks so much for sharing this, I love this kind of insight.

    And I’m sorry the two acquaintances you mentioned above could not receive this objective information without making personal attacks. I’d imagine those personal attacks, just like reading non-verbal, tells us more about the person themselves than they would ever like us to know.

    Keep up the keen sense of observation, this is awesome! I’m not one for politics, but am greatly fascinated by human behavior and non-verbal communication.

    Blessings, Love & Peace,


  6. Dr. Glass:
    I’m the last person to take umbrage with your body language observations, however, I did not walk away from last night’s Presidential Debate feeling that Mr. Romney won in any way, shape, or form. I took Mr. Obama’s downward glances and tightly closed lips as a mighty endeavor on his part to refrain from verbally tearing Romney’s nebulous campaign promises to pieces. On many of these occassions, the President could (and perhaps should) have aggressively retorted, “Look, Mitt… it was your man Bush, Jr. who deftly managed to bring this mess down upon the heads of the American public ~ and he who took us to war based upon the known false assertion that Saddam Hussein had ANYTHING to do with 9-11. And Bush managed to pull all of this off – as well as a similarly disastrous second term in office – by whispering the same sweet nothings in American ears that you are endeavoring to sneak past us now. In my first term, I have steadfastly, slowly but surely begun turning our conuntry’s woes around. I’m asking the American public to trust in where we are headed and to invest the same amount of time and effort in recovery during my second time as we gave G.W. Bush to disastrously rent our nation asunder. You’re telling our nation what they long to hear… but not explaining at all HOW you would actually bring your promises to fruition. I am telling Americans the perhaps less palatable, nevertheless unvarnished and crucial-to-genuine-recovery truth. This is not the time for smokescreens and diversionary feign of hand… this is a time for buckling in, knuckling down, gritting our teeth, and slugging our way back to a true, non-mortgaged, bedrock-foundational economic recovery.”

    I did not look upon President Obama as the “loser” of last night’s debate. I did view him as unfortunately perhaps comporting himself in a too gentlemanly manner, inadvertently portraying himself as somehow less of a warrior than Romney. Americans can call Regan “The Great Communicator” until the cows come home… but the fact of the matter is, he earned a very handsome living as an actor before ever becoming the President. It’s time Americans stop wasting their votes on ethereal, power-trip- and political-gain-seeking flourish and START voting for genuine honesty, dedication, assumption of personal responsibility, and steadfast accountability. Don’t just promise us a rose garden… lead us in plowing opur way through the waist- high weeds we’ll need to traverse in order to reap the reward of the roses’ sweet scent.


    1. magnificent! With over 30 years of sales, marketing, & PR experience, I will say Romney is a pro in these areas. He knows how to work a crowd and a room. He is adept at framing his answers while not actually answering the questions. He seizes upon the “hot buttons” of his audience and peppers his dialog with the appropriate words to push them. He adopts the language of what he knows is working for his competition, including Joe Bidens words from a recent speech regarding unemployment. He is a master in this arena. That is to be expected since that is what he has done his whole life. Sell people on his ideas. To invest with his firm, to sell a company to him, to hype the Salt Lake City Olympics…………….. It’s who he is it’s what he does, and he is damn good at it. But for President……. Absolutely NOT! One more thing. Can anyone please tell me what FOR PROFIT business is going to hire a new employee without increased need? Consumers are the job creators. There is no job when no need exists for the goods or services being offered. So, why do we allow the deification of the wealthy as being job creators? Once again, the use of specific language. CREATOR as in our Constitution referencing God. Romney wants us to believe he and is ilk are JOB GODS!


    2. I have got to agree with you here, I love Dr Glass’s interpretation, but have been around the law and debates long enough to know that. YES Obama should have ripped him a new one and he WILL, I think by the looking away and looking down, he was trying so hard to let Romney dig his FINAL grave with the chance of being elected. I guess I wanted Mitt to change my mind but bring up getting rid of PBS and Big Bird? Come on is that the best way to get our economy back.. LOL


    3. Kelly, you did such a great job here!! Wow! I so agree with everything you have said.I personally believe that Mitt was on drugs! He had so much confidence, like what you get from “speed” and he could not control his eye movements. Also he had a shit eating grin on his face pretty much the whole time.


  7. Interesting and fascinating, especially to see some of the similar things I noticed (pursed lips and potential reaction based on this) and some things I missed (position of the feet). Of course, now I’m going to read the other postings and I’m looking forward to future postings on the debate.


  8. Hi Lillian!
    As usual, you were right on the mark! Gov. Romney did ” win” the first debate! Pres. Obama appeared very defensive, insecure, and unsure of what he wanted to say. I enjoy your understanding of the nuances of peoples’ personalities and body language. I’ve never known you to be anything less than honest in your judgements, and I’m honored to have been your friend for 50 years! 🙂

    Martha C. D’Lugos
    Oct. 4th, 2012


  9. Great Job on the debates, Dr. Glass! OT, PLEASE we are begging you! Please do a body language analysis on Kate Gosselin, who was on Katie Couric’s show yesterday! The book, Kate Gosselin and How She Fooled the World was on Amazon for about 3 days and Kate’s lawyer had it pulled. The book is unbelievable! She journaled on her computer that she beats her babies in diapers who are potty training with a big wooden spoon. She picked up Colin 2 yrs. old by the hair of his head and threw him into his crib and she beat him into it with the wooden spoon and said she was afraid she would cause serious injury to one of the kids and she said today was that day. Robert Hoffman, the author of KGHSFTW, has passed lie detector tests and has the actual computer that kate threw out and a whole lot of documents out into the trash the day after she kicked Jon out of the garage apt. Please Please do a body language analysis on Kate. We are so proud of Katie Couric even asking her about the book! She was fidgeting then! Kate has been on tv interviews for years and they NEVER ask her the hard questions EVER. Until yesterday!
    Thank you, Dr. Glass!


  10. I do agree with your assessment Dr. Glass, however the debates will not change my mind on who I am going to vote for. I guess I just don’t understand debates, they’re like desperate promises made to be broken by desperate candidates. My mind was made up awhile ago, and this has not changed it. By the way Dr. Glass, what did you think of President Obama’s speech at the DNC? I don’t think that was ever posted, only the RNC and I’m just curious as to what you read there.


  11. Dr Glass, I love you to death!…but,you have the donation “DOOR KNOCKER” right on your front who do you support but ROMNEY..So, you are now fair here, things are not even here, how can you see, feel, respond honestly, with blinders on?


    1. I do NOT support any of the candidates. I merely report what I see. As I said I am not a political person and have no agenda here other than reading body langage. There should NOT be any DOOR KNOCKER advertisement and I will se that it is taken off. Thank you for making me aware of this.


  12. Excellent analysis, Dr. Glass. I appreciated the point you raised about the feet, I had never realized that before. I find you to be very objective and I always enjoy your blog posts.


  13. Greetings Dr. Glass. I followed your blog during the Casey Anthony trial and probably haven’t been on here since then. Sorry 😦 I was so upset and disgusted with that verdict I literally shut my laptop for a while and took a mental rest. Anyway, I thought of you as I was watching the debate and thought “wonder if Dr. Lillian is doing a body language analysis” because I saw soooo much body language going on during the debate. So I looked you up and whaalaa, was so happy! I have to say that of course you were ‘dead on’ with your analysis. Ones body language can tell so much more than the mouth in some instances. I love your articles and I’m sorry I’ve been away for sometime now, but I realized how I’ve missed reading your blog. Now I have some catching up to do and read back about a year. Take care and keep up the excellent work. I’ll look forward to reading your blog again regularly, especially the upcoming debates.


  14. Romney was great , but Obama was a little to tight lip and laid back.
    I think Obama was letting Romney set himself up.
    Romney was doing all the personal attacks while Obama was very tight lipped.
    I think Obama will come out with a t.k.o. knockout in the future.
    Alot of people will be shocked when he gets second term.
    I would like to see Romney win , but I think he will lose to Obama.
    I would love to see them only serve 1 term in the white house.


  15. Dr. Lillian Glass,

    Thank you very much for your analysis! I agree with you Romney was really engaged in the debate and Obama wanted out of there! Obama has been also protected by the media, is not challenged, maybe he missed the TelePrompTer, he is on his own now, he was really not prepared! IMO


  16. I think you could be right about that ! I thought to myself at first he was lost during the whole thing . Then I looked at the grin on his face and him holding back and letting Romney run away with the horses and carriage. I think he was holding back and there will be a big surprise in a few weeks , before the election. You are the professional Mr.Glass, and I love your fabulouse blog. Sometimes we may see things a little different , but I respect and adore you . You are the greatest when it comes to body language reading . But my gut feeling tells me Obama , has a ace card up his sleeve. I feel a second term for him and Romney will be a future president down the path a few years. It’s o.k. Mrs.Glass , my husband does not agree with me either at this time. He feels Obama looked like a real donkeys ass on stage standing next to Romney. I think he was holding back playing the poker face loser , but will come out a winner.


  17. This analysis is HARDLY objective; if you earnestly tried to be, you would have equally been attuned to each presidential candidates’ nuances in your report!

    You are a Romney supporter. Although you aren’t overt in expressing which side you are, all of the subtleties point to Mitt. (lower case barack obama tag, the title is in favor of romney)

    Your perception is that he won –and he did in your eyes! So vote as you please! But you are not objective. You are human with clear preferences, and you are clearly voting for Mitt Romney.

    (even though hes a tool)


    1. Tamie don’t tell me what I aim as that us my place to tell you what I am not yours. am no one’s supporter. I jut report what I see and if Obama did a better job during the first debate I would have reported that. As far as lower case and upper case, it has nothing to do with my support. You do nt know for whom I am voting. As I said, I objectively report what I see from a body language point of view. Please read the preface again.


      1. I have found that Dr. Lillian Glass makes no secret of her feelings regarding people for which she has a dislike. Im not sure what would be stopping her from claiming a dislike for either of the candidates if she felt such a way. However, she has not claimed any preference for or against either candidate. I believe she was professional and stayed within the boundaries of her expertise in this analysis. If she supports one candidate over another, I don’t believe anyone would have to read between the lines. She is not shy about making statements regarding what she sees as toxic behavior in others If she truly felt a preference for one candidate over the other she would have made a stronger case to support that position.


      2. Sue, you have fond wrong. It is not matter of liking or disliking a candidate. It is reporting what I see from a body language point of view. You don’t have to read between any lines as I speak the truth and say it like it is.


    2. Ladies, please. Each of you make valid points in which I’ve no doubt you earnestly believe. Your opposing points of view arise from identical foundational premises… personal observations paired with subsequent applications of somewhat scientifically supported postulations. (In Dr. Glass’ case, the “body language” of the two debaters and in Tammie’s case, the utilization of smaller case in typing the proper name, “Obama”.) Significant beyond all of that, however, is that both of your points of view are inescapably influenced by infused-throughout, known-to-be incredibly fallible human INTERPRETATION of what Romney’s and Obama’s “body language” vs. the written name, “obama” actually truly MEAN. In reality, both of your opinions are well founded – and neither cnsummately invalidates the legitimacy of the other. Stances such as these are not written in stone… they are simply points of view. It is up to each individual listener/reader to intelligently incorporate them (or not) into their OWN mindset as, after sober contemplation, they resultantly see fit.


      1. At no point did I assert that your report is not objective. Nor have I any doubt whatsoever that what you blogged is precisely what you saw and how you, with the benefit of your excellence in you field, interpreted it. I’m simply saying that no human being who observes and then reports any given event is capable of rendering the process wholly devoid of any measure of their own personal “take” on what they observed. I’m certain that, had you and another PhD individual as competently trained, highly experienced, and remarkably astute as you are in the area of Body Language Interpretation, sat side by side and individually observed the Debate, your resulting reports would, at least to some extent, have differed significantly. Does this mean either of you were being non-objective or untruthful? Absolutely not. It simply means that every human being observes, sifts, processes, and ultimately interprets phenomena through the filter of their own individual and highly diversified “take” on what they have witnessed. Their resulting reports will reflect this, and a lack of objectivity, bias, and/or pre-dispositions of any kind do not necessarily play any role at all in one individual’s report’s departure from another’s. Frequently, multiple individuals in a group witnessing the same event will come away offering vastly differing reports of what took place. None of them are necessarily embellishing upon, being dishonest about; or otherwise deliberately manipulating the facts; each individual is sincerely and earnestly reporting what they saw happen. Rather, the myriad of influential factors that collectively render every human being unique are manifesting themselves in the differing testimonies regarding a single witnessed event… particularly when they do not have the benefit of an exact science to fall back upon. Like the field of medicine, your area of expertise is an art, and I view you as very skilled at it. Nevertheless, other artists may well offer up entirely different renditions of the same subject matter. At that point, it becomes the responsibility of the beholders to arrive at their own, hopefully thoughtful and foundationally sound final conclusions.


  18. Obama seemed preoccupied to me, Dr. Glass. He reminded me of Jimmy Carter’s lackluster campaign statements during the Iran hostage crisis. He seemed like he wanted to be someplace else, as you said, and didn’t seem to be engaged in the debate itself.

    Whether he acted that way because he is tired of the campaign, or whether he acted that way because there is something terrifying going on in the Middle East (that we don’t know about), etc., we just don’t know. It was an amazing fail for a guy who is comfortable in front of people.


    1. Lillian, I like your blog. I am a speech path, too.

      I’m surprised that you didn’t comment on Romney’s behavior when he was “listening”. He looked agitated, twitched and sweated. Actually, he didn’t look like someone I would trust at all.


      1. Hi Megan I am not a speech path.I am a behavioral analyst. I didn;t see agitation in Romney nor did I see sweating. I see someone who listened and looked at Obama while Obama spoke. On the other hand when ROmeny spoke Obama looked down.


  19. Lillian, no mention of the Mit Romney non genuine smile??? His cheeks must have felt strained from holding them in that closed lipped smile position for 2 hours! Ya know, that one and only facial expression Romney wore when listening to Obama–staring at Obama, while blinking rapidly, lip muscles pulled tight in a fake smile. Many would say it was a patronizing smile, but I’ll leave that up to your judgement, as your knowledge of body language is richer than man. Certainly, we can say it was a non genuine smile…a facade. And that he used it persistantly, at least 50% of the debate he wore that projected expression. He wore that expression damn near 100% of the time when Obama was talking. I think it showed Romeny was putting his energy into projecting instead of listening. Honestly, this was a VERY persistant expression on Romney’s part. He rarely strayed from this facial expression when it came to listening to the other guy speak. It’s quite rare for a person to stick to a singular expression like that, no? So consistnantly he bore that expression…putting his energy into the rigid fake close-lipped smile, whilst fixedly staring at Obama and blinking like gangbusters. Why no comment on this behavior by Romney? I thought it was quite unusual. We joke and call it the “Romney Smile.” I’ve never seen anyone else hold such a faux smile so fixedly..for so long.
    What do you make of the Romney smile? What does it say about what he thought of Obama’s words? I ask because Mitt wore this expression without variance EVERYTIME IT WAS OBAMA’S TURN TO SPEAK. I can’t belileve you didn’t notice this very unusual expression. It’s unusual for the length and duration he bore it…with so little variation (while he was listening, anyway). While he himself spoke, he had other expressions and strong body language, as you described. But while in listening mode..he had just the one.
    When the other guy spoke—it was back to that Romeny non genuine smile: staring fixedly at his opponent with beady blinking eyes and a creepy closed lipped smile that never moved. Never varied! God, his facial muscles must have ached after that debate. How strange for a person stick so rigidly to ONE facial expression. Surely that is worthy to comment on. What did YOU make of Romney’s body language while he was “listening” to Obama’s words?


    1. Wintersun, your post made me laugh in a good way regarding Romney’s faux smile. You made very solid points describing how disingenuous his smile is. He struck me as very corporate shark in his demeanor.


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