Obama has a big problem, still, with the uhs, or what's been called his "intellectual stammer"—he's peppering his sentences with the word, goes the logic, to give himself time to think and choose his other words more carefully. He begins a lot of his sentences with "Well, uh." He used the uh so many times in the first minute of talking that I quickly gave up any hopes of counting them throughout the debate—that would have been insane-making. Suffice it to say, this is his crutch sound. Another word to note that he used: "double down," which has been talked about previously as the political catch phrase of the season. And a friend points out that Obama said "and" a lot. I didn't notice for all the uhs.
Romney, on the other hand, doesn't display one crutch word or another with any real frequency. He did exhibit the lip-smacking he's known for, and also said "Um" a few times, but overall, Romney is a pretty smooth, and also fast (people have pointed out that he has a greater word-per-minute rate than the average talker) speaker. His one crutch word that's not a crutch, exactly, but maybe it is, was, I think, love (or, like)—he said, among other things, "I like coal," "I like PBS," "I love Big Bird," "I love green energy," "I love great schools," and that Democrats and Americans both "love" America. This is one of those word choices, like honestly, that in repeat use starts to make a person wonder if it actually belies its purported meaning, particularly when followed with but. (I love it...but I'm going to have to _____.) Other Romney words, not unexpectedly, were about corporations and small businesses, and both of our candidates spoke a lot about the economy and healthcare.
Both Romney and Obama did a bit of the word-repeat, as in, "I-I," or "the-the," but neither did it excessively—sometimes that's a crutch, sometimes it may be for emphasis, sometimes perhaps it's both.
Folksiness and Conversational Appeal
Obama in speech has a tendency to drop his gs—"you're lookin'" instead of "you're looking," and to make I want into, say, I wanna. For example, in paraphrase: "Look. My philosophy has been makin' middle class families stronger. Occasionally ya gotta say no to folks in your party and the other party."
This seems to support the theory that more "folksy" or warm speakers are preferred—think Bill Clinton. We want folks we can relate to, who don't sound like robots, who seem like real people, you know, humans.
Posture and Facial Expressions
Obama looked down a lot, which had the overall effect of making him seem disinterested and a bit bored. Occasionally, he managed a faint smile, generally in response to Romney's aggressive tactics to interrupt or dominate the conversation. Rarer still was the huge Obama grin, which does rather light up the room and at least gave us some respite from the bored/head-down maneuver. If I were Obama's debate coach I'd tell him to LOOK UP and to smile more, but carefully, in the right moments. But, come on, eye contact with the audience—and the majority of the audience is on the other side of that TV. Romney tended to look over to the side, with that smug/patient (possibly smarmy) expression that seems to cover up a deep impatience. This is the look your dad gives you when he's waiting for you to finish explaining why you were late so he can just go ahead and ground you. Romney also appears to blink more frequently.