John Howard may have proved he is a good political campaigner but Labor leader Mark Latham says the Prime Minister's flapping-style handshake is unnerving. Special tactics were required to counter it, Latham said.

Defending his up-close handshake with Howard outside a Sydney radio studio on election eve, the taller Latham said he was not trying to stand over the Liberal leader.

Instead, he was getting in close to combat the armshake. "He has an unusual handshaking style. To avoid the flapping you've got to get a bit closer to him. That's what I did."