What to expect from Kamala Harris’ body language during the VP debate

VP hopeful Kamala Harris was a fierce contender in the Democratic primary debates, with The New Yorker declaring her the clear winner when she faced off against her current running mate, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders. As a former prosecutor with a reputation for being one of the most vigorous interrogators on the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Harris can be tough. So what can we expect when she challenges Mike Pence in this week’s vice presidential debates? Body language expert and psychologist Dr. Reneé Carr, who is also a political and corporate advisor, said that Harris has certain trademark gestures and habits that will make her a force to be reckoned with on Wednesday night.

“She’s a very composed person, and she’s very confident in herself,” Carr told The List. This confidence, she added, “gives her the freedom to focus on just what she’s saying,” rather than being concerned about how she looks — so you’ll never see Harris fidget with her hair or clothing, or glance away from the camera. “She knows exactly where the camera is most of the time, which means that she’s very, again, bodily aware,” Carr explained.

Why the way Kamala Harris holds her arms is so telling

Carr has studied Harris’ body language in previous debates and discovered a unique way that Harris positions her arms while she is speaking. Because Harris has so much composure, “telltale same signs that she [is] nervous are what are going on underneath her clothes. So, physiologically. She gets nervous, and you can tell because she’s always doing this to her left arm,” Carr said, imitating how Harris extends her left arm slightly to the side, as if “she’s always trying to open it.” Why would Harris do that? “What that means is she’s perspiring,” Carr proposed. “She may go like that because it’s uncomfortable for her, and that sweatiness — she probably doesn’t like it.”

While the left arm may reveal nerves, Harris’ right arm punctuates her power, Carr added. Noting that Harris tends to gesture with her right arm when making an argument, Carr said that this means Harris is saying with her body, “I’m being aggressive, I’m talking to you, I’m emphasizing my point.”

So what does it mean if Harris doesn’t move her left arm — the nervous one — at all while using her right arm in this weapon-like way? “She believes wholeheartedly that she has won the argument that she’s about to state,” Carr concluded.

Kamala Harris' eyes will reveal what she's really thinking

According to Carr, we’ll be able to tell whether Harris has an immediate answer to a question, or really has to mull on what to reply, by observing her eyes when she’s speaking. “Looking up to the right means, ‘Okay, let me think,'” Carr explained. If Harris does this, she’s actually conveying, “I’m at a loss of words here — I’m looking up to God to say, what am I going to say?” However, if Harris is spotted “looking to the right to the middle and down, [it means], ‘I’m really recalling factual information.'” So, for her, we can tell that she’s pretty much on target,” Carr said.

If Harris is uncomfortable with the question, you’ll notice her eyes shift down and to the left, Carr added. “Remember, this is her nervous arm,” she explained. “If Kamala is looking to the left and down, that means she’s nervous, she’s about to make up something, or she doesn’t know what to say or can’t recall, but she knows how to make it sound good.”

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