MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Susanne Jones watches presidential debates a bit differently.

A professor of communication studies at the University of Minnesota, Jones examines the tone of a candidate’s voice, facial expressions and hand movements.

For body language experts like Jones, Wednesday night’s back-and-forth was a feast.

“It was interesting to see how aggressive Mitt Romney was,” Jones said. “He needed to appear as the challenger and I think he (embraced that role and) came off far stronger than expected.”

And while the bold approach seemed to work for Romney, Jones says she’s surprised President Obama is being sharply criticized for his laid-back approach.

“Obama is the incumbent; he’s in the superior position,” Jones said. “I think he needed to appear calm and he did.”

Jones gave both candidates high marks for politeness, especially for a debate that had a lot of interaction.

“The two attended to each other quite a bit,” Jones said. “They smiled at each other a lot, and both did a really good job appearing that they like each other.”

Both men were well-behaved even in bowling over the debate’s moderator, Jim Lehrer.

Being the aggressor, Romney was able to interrupt Lehrer without seeming rude or intrusive.

“It was interesting how that was managed,” Jones said. “The president interrupted twice, but apologized both times. Romney was far more forceful. He showed a quality that he has not demonstrated in past debates.”


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