The question was in the air before the third and final presidential debate began Wednesday night: Would the two candidates shake hands?
They decidedly did not. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump didn’t go anywhere near each other the entire time they were onstage.
After a 2005 tape surfaced of Trump making obscene comments about women just days before the last debate, Clinton did not shake his hand to begin that bout. The two did shake hands after saying something nice about each other to answer the final question that night.
But when they finished the 90-minute ordeal on Wednesday, Clinton shook the hand of moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, then walked across the stage, waving at people in the crowd.
This act seemed mundane in the moment, but it positioned her in front of Trump, who was waiting at his podium until she left the stage. That allowed photographers at the event to capture the two in the same frame — her smiling and him smirking from behind:
Interestingly, it’s a tactic that Trump was criticised for using to his disadvantage during the last debate on October 9.
In the town-hall format that night, he appeared in Clinton’s camera angles a few times, which some on Twitter decried. “Saturday Night Live” even included a humorous bit about Trump creeping up on Clinton to the “Jaws” theme music in their parody of the debate.
Geoff Beattie, a psychology professor at Edge Hill University in England who specialises in gestures and communication, wrote that Trump was using his body language to bully Clinton:
“All in all, this was a bully’s performance, a physical attempt to dominate Clinton and manipulate our interpretation of her words. Clinton quoted Michelle Obama’s ‘When they go low, we go high’, but with Trump expressing himself as he did — stalking her as she talked, prowling behind her like a big beast of the jungle — the tone of the encounter remained firmly at the lower end of the scale.”
On Wednesday night, the candidates’ aversion to even approaching one another at least yielded an interesting juxtaposition on film:
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