#ThatMexicanThing: The vice presidential debate delivered some key moments for Twitter

Oct 5, 2016 | Elections, Elections - Presidential (2016), Internet Culture

Published: Salon (October 5, 2016)

Toward the end of the otherwise boring debate between Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, as Kaine was speaking about things that Donald Trump has said during his candidacy, Pence interrupted him, saying out loud, “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.”

#thatmexicanthing is is not a “thing at all” they are my family and friends.

#thatmexicanthing just got off working a night shift keeping a library open so the next generation of students can succeed #VPDebate

Trump List of #dispensables
African Americans
Mexican Americans
Muslim Americans
The Disabled
Poor Americans#ThatMexicanThing

Look at me, I’m #ThatMexicanThing that has served in the military and graduated college. #NeverTrumpPence

#ThatMexicanThing where immigrants harvest all our food, a job white Americans considers beneath them. #VPDebate

#ThatMexicanThing was my neighbor who works 100 hrs a week to send his kids to a decent private school. #VPDebate

#ThatMexicanThing is my abuelita who moved to San Antonio without speaking English & slept in a barn while picking lettuce every summer.

Before the comment, the debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine was destined to be dull.

And make no mistake about it, the internet noticed. Let’s go to the Twitter roundup.

Everyone knew this was going to hurt.

How do you prepare for a boring debate? By making cheeky jokes, such as these.

Is it bad if every time I see the little symbol after #VPDebate I first think it’s a martini and get thirsty? #TeamGin

The co-chairs of the Presidential Debate Commission looks, sounds, and act exactly how I have always imagined they would be.#VPDebate

Debate Fact: Tonight’s debate is expected to be watched by over 30 million Clinton staffers #VPDebate

Mike Pence committed the biggest gaffe, at first.

Early on, it seemed that Pence delivered one of the most inaccurate opening statements in history, referring to the host venue, Longwood University, as “Norwood University.” Fact-check? Absolutely false! Should this be held against him? Probably not, but these kinds of faux pas are catnip to the comically inclined.

Definitely heard Norwood instead of Longwood. Oopsie.#VPDebate

“Longwood will finally be put on the map because of this debate!”
Norwood University is one of the top Twitter trends.

Pence may or may not have “won,” but Kaine definitely lost.

More than any other single theme, Twitter’s discussion of this debate brought up one thing over and over again: Kaine’s constant interruptions were awful, and as a result he came across as shrill and insecure when contrasted with his poised counterpart. The “Donald Kaine” tweet stings the most, considering that part of the reason Democratic presidential nominee Clinton was determined to have won the presidential debate last week was that she interrupted far less often than her Republican rival, Donald Trump. It’s shocking that Kaine didn’t make a mental note of this while preparing earlier in the week.

Kaine keeps interrupting. Who does he think he is, Lester Holt?#VPDebate

.@timkaine is interrupting more than @mike_pence, which I don’t think is serving him well. Scoring more on positives. #VPDebate

Kaine is coming off as petty and hot headed. Not at all a good look for a ticket that struggles with likability. #VPdebate

Elaine Quijano, the debate moderator, was the real winner.

Twitter was effusive with praise for moderator Elaine Quijano, who at times sternly took command of the two wayward participants. Her growing frustration was evident as the night continued, but she was rightly praised for maintaining a firm grip on the proceedings even when Kaine and Pence couldn’t stop talking over each other.

Great job @Elaine_Quijano for pushing back on Pence after he clearly dodged the taxes question on Trump. #VPDebate


This moderator getting them together better than Lester Holt last week #VPDebate

There was a whole lotta mansplaining going on.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable part of watching Tuesday’s debate was the brazen disrespect of Quijano, particularly from Kaine. While both candidates talked over her words as if she wasn’t there, Kaine brought thing to a low point when he patronizingly violated the rules by chiding her, “This is important, Elaine.” The image of two wealthy white men ignoring and being condescending to a Hispanic female moderator was nothing short of disgraceful. She deserved better, and so did we.

Neither candidate is listening to moderator. Talking over each other. “We need to move on.” Awkward. #VPDebate

So fun to listen to two old white dudes talk over a woman of color.#VPDebate

Gotta say… really not loving the image of two white guys talking over the woman charged with running the show. Jussayin’.#VPDebate

Vladimir Putin was the big star of the night — in absentia!

Without question, the high point for Kaine was his tense exchange with Pence over Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who has a distressingly cozy relationship with the Trump campaign. Folks on Twitter noticed the prevalence of Putin’s name, of course, and were quick to call out Pence when he lied about praising Putin’s leadership. Kaine was shrewd in not letting this go. While that definitely didn’t redeem his temperamental performance, at least he guaranteed that Trump’s connection to a foreign totalitarian regime will remain in the news cycle.

Kaine, not surprisingly, hits back at Pence on Russia, with Trump’s Putinphilia. #VPdebate

Mike Pence must have a short memory. Here he is praising Vladimir Putin less than a month ago: http://ab21.org/mpvp  #VPDebate

Photo published for Mike Pence says it’s ‘inarguable’ that Putin is a stronger leader than Obama

Mike Pence says it’s ‘inarguable’ that Putin is a stronger leader than Obama

Pence defended his running mate’s praise of Putin.


Trump actually said that Putin is “far more” of a leader than Obamahttps://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2016/09/08/politics/mike-pence-on-donald-trump-vladimir-putin/index.html 

Photo published for Mike Pence defends Donald Trump comments on Vladimir Putin: 'inarguable'

Mike Pence defends Donald Trump comments on Vladimir Putin: ‘inarguable’

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday defended his running mate’s statement that Vladimir Putin is a stronger leader than President Barack Obama, calling it…


Pence winning debate on style, but repeatedly lying about a quote networks can run 24/7: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/09/08/mike_pence_inarguable_that_vladimir_putin_is_a_stronger_leader_than_obama.html 

Photo published for Mike Pence: "Inarguable That Vladimir Putin Is A Stronger Leader" Than Obama

Mike Pence: “Inarguable That Vladimir Putin Is A Stronger Leader” Than Obama

GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speaks with CNN’s Dana Bash about Donald Trump’s statement that Vladimir Putin is a much stronger leader than President Obama. Pence doubled down, saying:…


Bravo to Kaine for demanding accountability for praise of Vladimir Putin. One of the most undercovered aspects of this election.#VPDebate

Both candidates clung to former president Ronald Reagan’s name as if it were a security blanket.

Why did the 40th president of the United States start trending on Twitter during the debate? Because both Kaine and Pence tried to use Reagan’s name as a staff with which to beat their rival, that’s why. Presumably politicians do this to impress voters by a reference to a popular past president, but when the references feel shoehorned in instead of natural, liberals and conservatives can unite behind the transparent phoniness of it all.

Ronald Reagan’s ghost is having a rough year, man. #VPDebate

I love how the left hates Ronald Reagan unless they are debating a Republican. #VPDebate

How has this debate become: who can quote Ronald Reagan best?

Heads up: #Millennials who will decide this election don’t care.#VPDebate

One final tweet: This tweet best captures the spirit of the whole evening. It was prompted by Kaine’s and Pence’s talking about the importance of their Christian beliefs.

It’s cathartic to joke about travesties like this debate, but let’s not kid ourselves about what happened tonight. The Republican and Democratic presidential nominees are the most unpopular in recorded history. And even though Kaine and Pence were unlikely to change that in one night, they could have at least set a better example.

By failing to do even that, they not only guaranteed that this debate will be as unimportant as the vast majority of other vice presidential debates. Worse yet, they also deprived the American public of something it desperately needs right now: the ability to believe in its politicians again.