The question was in the air before the third and final presidential debate began Wednesday night: Would the two candidates shake hands?
They did not.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump didn’t go anywhere near each other the entire time they were onstage.
After shaking hands to begin the first debate, back in September, the candidates did not do so last week in the second debate, which took place two days after the 2005 tape surfaced of Trump making obscene comments about women. The two did shake hands at the end of that bout after an audience member asked them to say something nice about each other for the final question.
But when they finished the 90-minute ordeal on Wednesday, Clinton shook the hand of the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, and 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 lectern until she left the stage. That allowed photographers at the event to capture the two in the same frame – her smiling and his smirking from behind:
It’s a visualization critics said worked to the disadvantage of Trump during the second debate.
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 bit about Trump creeping up on Clinton to the “Jaws” theme music in its parody of the debate.
Geoff Beattie, a psychology professor at Edge Hill University in England who specializes in gestures and communication, wrote that Trump was using his body language in that debate 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 each other at least yielded an interesting juxtaposition on film: