Saturday, August 13, 2011
On Aug. 11, which also happened to be my birthday, I scheduled my work and play around the 6 p.m. telecast of the Iowa debate. Being a news and political junkie, I was not about to engage in birthday frivolity until I had observed the delivery styles of the eight current presidential candidates. I wanted to see how they came off verbally and non-verbally.
As scheduled, seven blue suitors and tiny Michele Bachmann in grey assembled in Stephens Auditorium on the campus of Iowa State University to debate and defend their records in the highly competitive Republican race. And on schedule, each took his or her assigned place behind a lectern.
For almost two hours the candidates sparred back and forth, but they and their answers were generally tight and confined to the cramped air space surrounding them. All, that is, with the exception of the only admittedly pudgy candidate: Newt Gingrich. He was bigger than his space, seemed to know it, and cleverly took advantage of it. Contrary to many of the candidates who often appeared to be simply sparring with each other, Newt deftly broke out of his defined space with open expansive gestures, a booming voice, sweeping eye contact and brilliant rhetoric. He embraced the attendees and his TV viewers and engaged all with his humorous criticism of the formation of the super committee on debt reduction, stating that it was, “as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with in my lifetime.” The auditorium audience loved his candor and roared with approval!
Today, Aug. 13, Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. But that doesn't change the fact that Gingrich was incredibly comfortable moving beyond the confines of the lectern to engage the audience. His carriage and body language gave him an edge so he could communicate more effectively with the audience while making him appear at ease and confident.