During Sunday night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it was hard not to notice the latter’s body language. The Republican presidential nominee lurked about the stage, stalking his opponent and looming eerily behind her. Broadly spoke with a body language expert to find out what all of that pacing and skulking meant.
“Crowding someone’s space, or lurking, is commonly used by bullies as a tactic to make someone cower and feel defensive,” Robin Kermode told Broadly. “As Clinton’s speaking he’s moving around in the background, pulling the audience’s focus away from her.” Kermode went on to explain what Trump’s facial expressions might show. She zeroes in on how he flicks his neck whenever he speaks and pulls his head backward while shoving his jaw forward. In addition, his tightly pursed lips betray a hostile demeanor. The body language coach went on to call the Republican nominee a “bully”:
When asked to sum up Trump’s approach in one word, Kermode responds with two: “Playground bully. Really, it’s classic schoolboy bully stuff.” Kermode cites an instance when Trump threatens Clinton with an investigation into her use of a private email server. “He goes, ‘I didn’t think I was going to say this, but I’m going to say it,’ then he turns away from her. That’s exactly what bullies do in playground fights before they come back with a punch.”
As he does so, Trump visibly inhales. “It’s almost as if he’s taking in air, right before a punch. Like all bullies, his chin is too high. It’s what animals do when they’re looking for a fight: They lift their chin.” Then, right on cue, Trump lands the blow: He’ll appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton’s email affairs.
Kermode also analyzed the way Trump attempted to explain away his comments to Billy Bush in 2005 that were caught on a hot mic and released over the weekend. “Every time he says the phrase ‘locker room chat,’ he closes his eyes,” Kermode said. “He’s obviously politically embarrassed about it, and is trying hard to be genuine and polite, but his chin is still too high and clenched.”