This is what I call McCain’s very characteristic “puffer fish look.” In response to numerous issues about which he’s vexed that more progress hasn’t been made, McCain’s will display a combination of pressed lips (annoyance), suppressed, ironic smile (puffed cheeks) and an upside down smile (where his chin rises and the mouth pushes up, revealing a combination of anger, disgust and sadness or disappointment).
If Americans vote for the most optimistic candidate (and they most often do), then this debate was generally good news for Romney and Huckabee, the two candidates whose smiling activity was by far the most common among the contenders.
Romney had his tough moments, though, and they came early in the debate regarding abortion. Asked to comment on Brownback’s robo-calls doubting Romney’s pro-life position, Romney showed anger, lapsed into disgust and sadness (lips corners down), and managed some smiles mixed with closing his eyes as if he wished the whole issue would just go away.
Paul, Tancredo and Brownback are the angry, aging men, pushing for change.
Hunter is given to showing contempt for anyone who differs with his views.
Giuliani had enough levity to show mock fear in response to being asked to explain his biggest mistake in life in only 30 seconds; but what’s more characteristic is that the left side of his mouth rises in a sign of disgust as he explains his views and denounces those of the Democrats.
Tommy Thompson has pained, often empathetic expressions of sadness and disgust as he wishes for change.