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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
8:59 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Body language says much about candidates

Just how candidates for public office "talk" with their gesturing may be as intriguing as hearing what comes out of their mouths as campaigning for 2004 elections forges ahead.

Already the line-up for Democrat hopefuls for the presidential nomination is giving pundits and political communication specialists fodder for insights into the punch candidates hope to put into their words with animated gesturing.

Take, for example, North Carolina Sen. John Edward's karate chops and thumbs-up sign. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri wields his fist about and Al Sharpton knocks the podium with one hand and then cups both toward himself.

Body language has its do's and taboos, but cultures all over use it in their unique ways to communicate expressively. In fact, some anthropologists say that as much as 60 percent of human communication is nonverbal.

Candidates can be careful with their gestures, giving their messages sincerity and substance, or they can be careless and stand out because their fist-pounding, jabs and flying fists fail to match what they are saying.

Think back to some significant moments in history and how body language talked:

President John F. Kennedy, in his 1961 inaugural speech, wagged his index finger as he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

And, when President Bill Clinton told Americans he was guilty of no indiscretion with a White House intern, he clenched his fist and pointed a finger, saying, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

So, as you watch the parade of candidates this coming year, remember that voters have their gestures, too.

A fist with a thumb up means "OK" or "Good job" – but, a fist with a thumb up making a sweeping motion, in baseball language, mean's "You're out."