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October 22, 2012

Debate Three: Romney – Obama in Screen Shots. Bombs Away! (Updated)


Obama did an effective job looking resolute and focused, expressing reservation on his face without drifting anywhere close to Biden territory.


(Okay, here’s the Mount Rushmore version, which seemed good certainly through the first 20 minutes.)


Obama’s largest improvement over Hofstra? Still more confidence. Gives Bill Clinton a run for his money tonight as “Explainer-in-Chief, ” Obama detailing the nuances of U.S. policy while deconstructing GOP “whoppers.”


Just like at Hofstra in response to attack on his handling of Benghazi, Obama got angry about supposedly short-shrifting Israel. The passion was effective.

I’ve been impressed with Romney’s composure over the three debates. His temperature still shows as questionable in comparison to Obama’s composure/deliberateness, but looking at the last two frames, he’s done an impressive job keeping himself composed and in check. (Compare, for instance, these frames lashing out at Rick Perry in the GOP debates.)

…At the same time, however, that expression, especially in the second frame, also reflects how much Romney spent the evening on his side of the split screen getting schooled.


Obama could have benefitted from a larger range of emotions like we see here. What happened to humor?


Overall, the debate producing a lot of testoserone-charged stand-offs, here over Romney’s position on the Detroit bailout. We’ll have to see how it nets out. I can’t imagine it’s going to do much for the women’s vote. If you want to break out the popcorn, though, here they are banging (with the expressions we’ve been more familiar with of Mitt unplugged):






Listening to some video clips and then taking another look at my screen grabs, there are a couple more angles worth noting:

Romney Obama foreign policy debate

At various moments, Romney looked a little over his head, at which point he would resort to memorized lines filled with names of terror groups or obtuse geographic locations.


Licking the lip seemed like a nervous reaction.

Romney Obama foreign policy debate 1

In the debate chatter this last month, somehow smiling (or too much smiling) has been made out to be a bad thing. Granted, Obama was mocking and derisive at times (most notably delivering Mitt the weaponry lecture). What the screen shot seems to depict, however, is Obama not only looking at ease, but actually enjoying himself — a reassurance in itself to those who have questioned how much he really loves the job.

  • Stan B.

    What happened to humor? Hope you didn’t miss the part with, “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them,” and “Boats that go underwater called submarines.” And that, of course, was after the “horses and bayonets.”

  • Glennis Waterman

    I am biased of course, but my takeaway was the difference between the two when the other one was speaking. Obama was focused, listening, sometimes reacting with a smile, a frown, a subtle furrow of the brow. Romney was tense, smiling a fake smile, licking his lips, twitching.

  • jmac

    Romney: “My flag pins bigger than your flag pin.” Obama: “Way to impress Red State and National Review!”

  • Janis Edwards

    I am studying news photos. Smiles are everywhere (even with headlines that use contentious metaphors). Surprisingly, visual strategies of opposition and clash are also much more widely used than I expected. (My upcoming article in Communication Quarterly defines.) Often pictures of the candidates show them speaking at the same time. Out of many many options, newspapers tend to user the same images.

  • Dani

    Question: What are your thoughts on the new 2016: Obama’s America dvd? ( I just saw it and have so many questions. Mind you, I am Canadian so, naturally, I’m confused.

    • Catherine McCallum

      Haven’t seen it, but it’s a movie made by Dinesh d’Souza, a rabid rightwing nut. I imagine it’s garbage.

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