First Democratic debate 2019: Memes off and running

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Presidential hopefuls take to the stage in the first Democratic primary debate. 


Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

There was more Spanish than expected, one technical goof, and the cameras caught an image that quickly became a meme. The first debate of the Democratic presidential primary season, leading up to the 2020 election, aired Wednesday live from Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. 

Because the Democratic field of candidates is so large, 10 contenders debated Wednesday, with an additional 10 taking a turn Thursday. NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo are broadcasting both debates from 9 to 11 p.m. ET each night.

Here are the top meme-worthy moments from round one. 

Beto speaks Spanish 

One of the first debate moments to stir social media came early on, when former Rep. Beto O’Rourke slid between English and Spanish during his first answer. The bilingual demonstration pleased some and startled others, while some just wanted an answer in any language. 

Booker the looker

Cameras caught Corey Booker’s look of seeming surprise when O’Rourke switched to Spanish, and it became the iconic photo of the night. 

Y mas Espańol

Still, despite his baffled reaction to O’Rourke, Booker wasn’t about to let his debate opponent be the only Spanish-speaker on the stage. 

Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?

The candidates may talk a good game, but it turns out many of them remind viewers of other familiar faces.

Jay Inslee: An admiral in a 1995 movie

or Yondu

Elizabeth Warren: A Claire’s shopper

A bicyclist

Amy Klobuchar: Auntie Amy

Cory Booker: Lex Luthor

Mr. Clean

Beto O’Rourke: Jack Skellington

Tulsi Gabbard: Storm from X-Men

Julián Castro: An NPC

Bill De Blasio: Beto’s dad

A bitcoin investor

An Indiana Jones character

Joe Pesci

Mic mistake

Midway through, NBC experienced a technical goof when the network’s control room neglected to turn off the mics worn by the first moderators. “I’m shocked Elizabeth Warren didn’t jump in with a plan to fix the mics,” wrote one Twitter user. Wrote another, “So far my favorite person of the night is the guy who advised Beto to give his answers in Spanish. My second favorite is the guy in the control room who left everyone’s mics on.”

One word from the president

While some viewers watched the debate avidly, President Donald Trump delivered a one-word review: “BORING!”

The president followed up by calling broadcast network NBC “unprofessional” and “fake news” for the control-room microphone gaffe.

The president had already predicted he’d find the debate “boring,” telling Fox Business Network earlier in the day: “It just seems very boring, but I’m going to watch it because I have to. This is part of my life.”





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