Who won the 2nd GOP debate? Body language experts decode every participant beyond their words

ByJahanvi Sharma
Sep 28, 2023 05:23 PM IST

The second Republican debate held on Wednesday night, was a sight to behold as politicians shared their views and words. Body language experts are now decoding every participant.

“They’re going to remember how you spoke, how you showed up and how your presence was in those particular moments,” said body language expert Chris Ulrich in an exclusive with The Post.

“They’re going to remember how you spoke, how you showed up and how your presence was in those particular moments,” said body language expert Chris Ulrich (AP)
“They’re going to remember how you spoke, how you showed up and how your presence was in those particular moments,” said body language expert Chris Ulrich (AP)

According to Chris, some of the best indicators of leadership potential have little to do with words spoken. Instead, candidates at the second Republican debate of the 2024 campaign were challenged to balance two key factors: confidence and likability.

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“They’re trying to do two things: One, come across competent and effective like they could sit in the presidential chair,” he began. “And then in the same vein, the other thing that voters are looking for is: ‘Are you likeable? Can I trust you?’

“What we’re looking at is openness vs. closed in our body language or an increase of anxiety or a calmness," he put forth.

Chris Christie: ‘Show up or Shut up'

Chris Christie created a huge buzz Thursday night, slumping over the podium in his typical shoot-from-the-hip approach.

When he made one of the most memorable comments of the night calling Donald Trump- former American president- ‘Donald Duck’, he shined with a powerful hand gesture, said Chris Ulrich.

Additionally, he pointed to the camera to emphasize his point.

“It’s kind of like if you ever seen those ‘Uncle Sam wants you’ posters [from World War II],” began the expert.

“He is saying to Donald Trump, ‘Show up or shut up.'”

Nikki Haley: ‘Powerful’

Nikki Haley's performance on Wednesday evoked confidence and relatability through her decisive answers and assertive gestures, said Chris.

The chopping motion she used while making her points helped her come across as a very focused and powerful candidate.

Vivek Ramaswamy: ‘Laughing’

Vivek was one of the most targeted candidates in the Republican debate, considering his enormous jump in the polls post the first debate.

While Chris appreciates the Indian-American candidate's openness and enthusiasm he thinks he made a mistake by answering too jovially to the remarks made on him.

“It’s important to laugh it off, but at a certain moment, it would have been nice to see him back up and say, ‘Hey, enough is enough,'” said Chris.

“We saw him kind of do that a little bit, but not enough, And so he got beat up to the point where I think he got hurt a little bit tonight, ” he added.

Tim Scott: ‘Relaxed’

Tim Scott garnered more speaking time in the second debate and was noticeably more vocal this time.

“Tim Scott was much more relaxed in his body language. He was at ease,” said Chris. “He was trained, probably, but he came across very comfortable in his body language and the pace of his speech.”

According to the body language expert, a factor that hurt Tim's performance during the discussion was his inability to converse amid interruptions.

"He would ultimately get quiet,” he said. “We saw that with Jeb Bush when he was battling with (Donald) Trump, and that hurt him in those times.”

Ron DeSantis: ‘Not a normal smile’

As per Chris, Ron has got an issue with his smile.

“It is just not his thing.”

The Florida governor's strained grin- which has become the source of many memes was visible again as he tried to smile through his criticisms.

“It’s not a normal smile – he doesn’t engage the corners of his mouth, there’s no crow’s feet,” pointed Chris.

“The only time we see that slowdown is literally at the end of the debate. In the last half hour, we see a calmer DeSantis, a clearer DeSantis,” he added.

Doug Burgum: ‘Talked so fast’

“For Doug, it’s like, ‘Thanks for playing, Doug.'” “I mean, he had to literally force himself into the debate as he gets so few questions.”

The North Dakota governor got little to no footage in the debate and was nearly being squeezed out of the picture, observed Chris.

When Doug did get questions, he failed to answer them correctly with confidence as he “rushes his answers.”

“He talked so fast.”

Mike Pence: ‘Awkward’

Mike Pence has served as the Vice-President in 2016, serving a term alongside former President Donald Trump.

Chris states that Mike played well in the first Republican debate.

“He’s a known entity, and at the last debate, he was more presidential,” Ulrich said. “When he talks, he slows down and delivers his lines.”

However, in the second one, he fumbled over his point at times.

“Today he was stepping over himself – he couldn’t even deliver his lines,” Ulrich said. “And so that awkwardness hurts him.”

Who won the 2nd GOP debate?

“You can make the argument there’s no alternative yet to (President) Biden or Trump,” began the body language expert. “At the end of the day, these folks are trying to ‘survive on the island’ – and the question will be, ‘Do they resonate with the American people?’ – not only from what they said, but how they showed up.”

“Did the folks at this debate show up in a way that will, at the end of the day, have the American people and Republican voters say, ‘I’ve seen on this debate stage as an alternative to President Trump?'” Ulrich asked.

“I’m not sure.”

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