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Romney's forceful body language scores in debate

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 1:50 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Confident and forceful, Romney's debate performance scores points with body-language experts.  (Matt Rourke, File, Associated Press) FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Confident and forceful, Romney's debate performance scores points with body-language experts. (Matt Rourke, File, Associated Press)

NEW YORK — The hands came out of the pockets. The gaze was intense. Mitt Romney leaned confidently into the lectern.

Even with the sound turned off, Romney would have stolen Newt Gingrich's debate thunder with a surprisingly commanding and aggressive performance in their latest televised faceoff. That's the judgment of body language experts who watched Thursday night's debate in Jacksonville, Fla.

An expert in political communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, says the debate was a marked change for Romney compared to other recent debates.

Jamieson says Romney's nonverbal cues suggested directness and she notes that, from what she saw, Romney's halting delivery was gone.

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, listens to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Confident and forceful, Romney's debate performance scores points with body-language experts.  (Matt Rourke, File, Associated Press) FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, listens to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla. Confident and forceful, Romney's debate performance scores points with body-language experts. (Matt Rourke, File, Associated Press)

Jamieson says Romney took a big step toward blunting Gingrich's contention that he'd be the more successful debater in the general election.

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