Excerpt found in Newark Star-Ledger

“It’s True: White Teeth Can Lead To The White House”


Monday, February 16, 2004, Section 1, pg. 1

WASHINGTON — If the race for president were based on style points instead of votes, President Bush would be in big trouble, style experts say.

Though substance is clearly the most essential component of any political candidate’s success, candidates who overlook personal style do so at their own peril.

Robert Dallek, a professor of history at Boston University who has written books on Presidents Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt, said personal style can play a significant role in the national electoral consciousness.

“It depends on the given moment in time. If there are significant issues as there currently are today, those are going to count more than style. But when Bush smirks or Dean shrieks, these things do register forcefully on people,” he said.

Dallek said personal style and communication skills contributed greatly to the success of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Reagan. On the other hand, he said, Presidents Johnson and Richard Nixon were elected despite being “ham-handed.”

“It can be a factor, but it is certainly not the only factor,” he said.

According to experts on speech, body language, appearance and fashion sense, Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina get the highest marks for style.

Bush got high marks for his presidential look, but rated poorly on speaking skills, body language and smile.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose campaign has been in free fall for weeks, got low marks from nearly all of the experts, while retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who dropped out of the race last week, got failing grades from all.


Renee Grant-Williams, a Nashville voice coach and author of the book “Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention,” said Kerry and Edwards each are better speakers than Bush.

She said Bush has two separate voices, the “charming Texas frat boy” voice he uses in informal discussions, and the “clipped, rapid, sound bite” voice he uses when conducting official business.

“If I were coaching him, I would suggest he slow down and that he avoid clipping the ends of his short phrases. He has this tendency to clip the ends of words and phrases as if he is dismissing the notion of us coming along with him any further,” she said.

Grant-Williams, who has coached politicians and a host of celebrities, believes the best speakers deliver their words from the entire body, not just from the voice box.

“When you speak using muscles all the way up from your body, there is a resonance that conveys a sense of commitment,” she said.

Kerry and Edwards share that skill, she said, though Kerry speaks in a deep, warm tone, while Edwards’ tones are higher pitched and more youthful.

“John Kerry has a very comforting and reassuring voice that sounds almost paternal. He leads you from one phrase into the next phrase, seldom appears rushed, and he tends to give his statements time to register,” she said.

“Edwards’ voice is slightly higher pitched, which gives him a boyish, enthusiastic, upbeat kind of quality. … His pacing is very varied and effective, and his Southern accent can be quite charming,” Grant- Williams said.

She said Dean’s vocal style is for the most part bland.

“There is nothing inherently offensive about the tone of Dean’s voice, but neither is there anything endearing. His voice and delivery are flat, lacking color and warmth,” she said.


Ginny Pulos, a New York media consultant and expert on body language, said consistency between a candidate’s voice, message and body movements can put audiences at ease and convey a sense of trustworthiness.

Here’s how she rated the candidates:

Bush: “He appears far more confident then he did in 2000. His gestures are far more commanding and definite. He’s learned to communicate leadership. At the same time, he hasn’t been able to get rid of some problems: The head cocked to the side, pursing lips, and smirking which communicates anger, frustration and arrogance.”

Kerry: “He has an easy, open manner. He speaks with open arms, open palms, which communicates confidence and credibility. His breathing is very smooth. He also has direct eye contact. The words and tone of his voice are in line with his gestures. His energy is OK, but he has the unfortunate tendency to lick his lips too often, which suggests nervousness.”

Edwards: “He communicates better than anybody else his passion, enthusiasm and energy in a youthful style. There’s something wonderful about his communication style, but it is not perfect. He’s got one foot in front and the other slightly moving away. That’s the non-verbal cue that, ‘I really want to get out of here.'”

Dean: “He addresses crowds with open arms, which is inclusive, but with closed fists, which is contradictory. He has a tight neck, locked jaw and a sort of frozen expression. He talks really fast, which communicates impulsiveness or disingenuousness.”


Jeff Golub-Evans, a New York cosmetic dentist who has enhanced the smiles of celebrities from Kim Cattrall of “Sex and the City” to Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton, also gave the advantage to Edwards and Kerry.

Bush, he said, has small teeth that suggest clenching or grinding, and his smile appears forced.

“He could use some whitening. His teeth kind of sap color from his face. They are the darkest of all the candidates’ teeth, and a little whitening could make him appear more youthful,” Golub-Evans said.

Kerry’s teeth are large, appropriate for his long face, he said. One of his front teeth is longer than the other, but that might not be a disadvantage.

“Here’s a man who could easily have those teeth redone, but he has an agenda that’s more important than his appearance. It shows he has self- confidence,” Golub-Evans said.

Like other aspects of Edwards, his teeth convey his youth, in Golub- Evans view.

“He has the lightest teeth of the bunch. He has a really nice smile. The only problem is that his side teeth are very narrow, so you see spaces on either side,” he said.

Dean’s smile does not seem to match his face, Golub-Evans said. “He’s got angry teeth. He does not have sharp features on his face, but he’s got these sharp teeth. It’s a mixed message,” he said.


Martin Greenfield, a Brooklyn clothier who has made suits for presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, had a simple piece of advice for all presidential candidates: “Anybody who runs for the highest office in the land, maybe the world, ought to look like he belongs there.”

Greenfield has not yet dressed President Bush, though he hopes to. Still, he said, Bush adopted a presidential look as a candidate in 2000 that endures today.

Of the Democratic contenders, he said, Edwards looks the most presidential, handsome with well-tailored clothes.

Front-runner Kerry has fallen into a common trap of appearing too casual, wearing open collars and sweaters on the campaign trail, he said. Former front-runner Dean’s routine of ripping off his suit coat and rolling up his sleeves is likewise a bad move, Greenfield said.

“I would recommend for any person running for president to try and look presidential, not to dress down because you want to appeal to women or to one group or another. I believe that if you’re going to be a CEO you ought to look like a CEO. If you want to be president, you ought to act and look presidential,” he said.

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