Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Congressman Paul Ryan will take the stage at Thursday night’s vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, KY.
What does it take for both vice presidential candidates to project confidence during the debates?
Northern Virginia image consultant Anne Morgan says both Ryan and Biden need to present themselves as “authoritative, trustworthy, and credible” during Thursday’s debate. Morgan, owner of Color and Image Insight, says the navy suit is the standard for presenting that image to potential voters.
“I would say that Al Gore got advice to wear earth tones once upon a time and I’m not sure that was the best advice for his coloring or for his presentation,” Morgan recalled. “Although it makes for a warmer, more friendly presentation, in this setting that’s probably not the highest priority.”
CNN reports that poor body language has been the most common mistake over the years. President George H.W. Bush glanced at his watch while someone asked a question during a town hall meeting with Bill Clinton in 1992, sending the message to voters that he had little interest or patience with Americans struggling through the recession. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore’s sighs during his debate against George W. Bush conveyed arrogance, rendering him an unlikeable candidate, pundits point out.
Morgan stresses good body language is key for both candidates to convey confidence and openness to the TV audience.
“I think body language is a big factor in the presidential debate and they need to appear open,” Morgan said. “They need to make eye contact with each other to some extent, but also with the camera, to have a confident but open type of stature.”
More important than dress and body language is avoiding gaffes which could make the news immediately after the debate and alter voters’ impressions of the candidates.
“Particularly in the current age of YouTube and nightly political news comedy," CNN notes, "any slip-up can become fodder for the 24-hour news cycle.”