Donald Trump Plays by His Own Set of Rules at the GOP Debates

TheStreet - In 1992, President George H.W. Bush made headlines for checking his watch as an audience member asked him a question during a debate with Bill Clinton. Eight years later in 2000, Al Gore's audible sighing during a debate with George W. Bush raised eyebrows, prompting the then-vice president to promise in an interview to "sigh a little bit less" in upcoming showdowns.

In the 2016 election cycle, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump's odd facial expressionsand movements have amused debate viewers, for sure. But unlike Bush and Gore, who were heavily criticized for their relatively subtle non-verbal cues, Trump's over-the-top gestures haven't cost him any points in the polls. Why?

"It's been a real conundrum from an analytical point of view," said Erik Bucy, a professor of strategic communication at Texas Tech University and expert in nonverbal communication in political news. "He does things that are so outrageous with his face that any conventional politician would have been penalized for it. He's just channeling outrage and voter anger to the extent that he can use these expressions to reinforce voter animosity towards whatever issue or person or event he's mocking."

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