For Perry, Romney and Bachmann, it's all about the hands -- and eyes
Photographs can communicate a telling story, not always the story, but a story.
Can you make any kind of observation about the politician's style or connection with voters?
Tim Pawlenty was expected to be a frontrunner in the competition for the 2012 Republican nomination.
He's likable, had appropriately conservative positions and accomplishments to cite from his two terms governing a blue state.
But he dropped out Sunday after a distant third place straw poll finish behind Michele Bachmann.
He'll be ancient history by Friday and released a farewell message late Monday. But analysts have been attempting to discern why the former Minnesota governor got no traction with the media or voters.
Why Pawlenty didn't make that invisible emotional connection with in dividuals that some politicians like Barack Obama once did and Sarah Palin so obviously still does.
They each have their own campaign styles. Some are as phony as a campaigning congressman, pretending to chat while looking over the voter's shoulder at who's next to greet.
Others are intensely present for each person they talk with, an impression that voter shares with many others over time. At least that's the hope.
Michele Bachmann impressed viewers with her first debate performance in June and has been enthusiastically campaigning ever since, much like a rock star, protected by her entourage from too much public contact, often tardy to ask waiting crowds for their votes.
Mitt Romney hasn't really stopped campaigning since John McCain conceded and didn't let Sarah Palin speak back on that dark November night in 2008.
So Romney knows the ropes and routines of campaigns and has looked the most comfortable on the pressurized stages of the two most recent GOP debates where competitors display that forced camaraderie.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest to join the Republican fray.
Saturday in Charleston, S.C. he was so eager to get going he charged toward the stage at the RedState Gathering before his introduction was complete.
"Let's get this show on the road," he muttered.
As soon as he finished his candidacy speech (full text right here), Perry plunged into the crowd with a noticeable enthusiasm before dashing off to New Hampshire and then Iowa where he spoke Sunday at a Lincoln dinner in Waterloo, Bachmann's hometown.
Perry cannily showed up early at the dinner. Quiet then. And no competition for attention.
He moved from table to table to sit and chat with each group of Republican diners for a few minutes each, as NBC's sharp-eyed First Read team noted.
Bachmann arrived late, as usual, and did not hear Perry's remarks.
He sat politely listening to hers, then slipped out the back to his new bus and headed for Des Moines. Monday the nation's longest-serving governor worked the Iowa State Fair, as if it was rural Texas instead of rural Iowa.
What kind of impression would you get from these photographs of him talking with individual Iowans?
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photos: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press (Pawlenty); Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press (Bachmann); Jim Young / Reuters (Perry listens to Iowa voters); Jim Young / Reuters (Perry talks with a senior Iowan); Alexander Cohn / Associated Press (Romney in New Hampshire); Brett Flashnick / Associated Press (Huntsman campaigns in South Carolina); Charles Dharapak / Associated Press (Perry talks with an Iowa State Fairgoer).