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Debate Body Language: What Did It Say?

Whatever You Call It, It Worked

"I'm not sure what that was — a smile? Not really. Not a laugh, either," said Katherine Hall Jamieson, a professor of political communication at the University of Pennsylvania. "And actually not a grin. It was really just something that said, `I have an answer to that and I'm holding it.'"

Was it appropriate?

That, said Jamieson, would simply depend on one's allegiance. "The Republicans are trying to advance the argument that Biden was behaving in an unhinged fashion," she said. The Democrats, of course, thought it was great.

Another expert in the field thinks that even if some viewers were offended by the smiling, for lack of a better word, it helped Biden control the agenda.

"I think it was part of an overall strategy to keep Ryan off stride," said Jerry Shuster, who teaches political communication at the University of Pittsburgh. "He really couldn't ever finish a thought."

Jamieson echoed that: "Whenever you're paying attention to the person reacting, it draws attention from the person talking," she said.

In any case, it seemed to be just what President Barack Obama needed from his running mate.

"If I were the president's doctor I would say, `This is just what I ordered,'" Shuster said.

By Jocelyn Noveck, AP

(AP Photo)

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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