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Body language expert breaks down Pence-Harris vice presidential debate

Body language expert Traci Brown gives her impressions based on what she saw when Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris sat down for their debate.

SALT LAKE CITY — Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris hit the debate stage Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. 

While they each said thousands of words, their body language said even more.

Traci Brown analyzes body language professionally to determine the truthfulness of witnesses and suspects in criminal and civil cases. 

12 News asked her to analyze the body language of the vice presidential candidates during the debate.

The first thing Brown said she noticed was that Pence was not at all comfortable with the prospect of stepping into the presidency in the event that President Donald Trump, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus, died or become incapacitated.

“It doesn’t make him comfortable to think about taking over,” Brown said, basing her opinion on Pence’s body language. 

“That is not what he wants to happen at all, and I think it would scare the hell out of him.”

Brown said that Pence showed himself to be a follower who does not hesitate to support the party line or the president, even when he may personally disagree. 

For example, Brown said Pence seemed embarrassed when the debate turned to Trump’s comments about servicemen and women as well as the idea that a peaceful transfer of power might not take place.

“We saw the corners of his mouth just slightly go down, just a touch, and that shows embarrassment,” Brown said. “So he’s actually embarrassed at those comments, but he has to support [Trump]."

In contrast, Brown believed that Harris is less of a "yes woman" and more of a future party leader. 

Brown even believed that Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden may have different priorities when it comes to racial justice. 

Brown recalled Biden stumbling over his words more when discussing that topic than any other during last week’s presidential debate.

“That’s where he showed the least congruency,” Brown said, later explaining that “congruency” refers to the matching of what Biden says versus what he thinks or feels. 

“Harris almost got out of her seat. We saw her get out of her seat when she was talking about it, so it’s really her big issue. Biden is going along with it. I think he thinks it’s OK, but he has other things to focus on.”

Throughout most of the night, Pence was very even-keeled while Harris could be seen regularly smiling or stifling laughter at some of what the Vice President said. 

Brown said the difference in tone and energy may have something to do with the difference in the candidates’ race and gender.

“With Pence, we saw someone who is going to be a flat line. ‘This is how we do business,’” Brown said. “Harris brought that energy, and we saw that from [former President Barack] Obama as well. They’re really working to ignite passion.”

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