Dem debate memes: Andrew Yang gives out money, Sean Spicer goes dancing

On stage in Houston, 10 candidates fought -- and ABC reminded viewers that Sean Spicer has moves.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read
Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Third Debate In Houston

Democratic presidential and candidate former tech executive Andrew Yang got the meme machine cranking early on. 

Getty Images

Just 10 Democratic presidential contenders debated Thursday night, cut in half from the 20 who faced off in two two-night groups earlier this summer. The participants were former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Sen. Kamala Harris; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Senator Cory Booker; former Rep. Beto O'Rourke; Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former housing secretary Julián Castro.

There were only 10 candidates because the Democratic National Committee had tougher qualification rules this time, doubling the polling and donor requirements. So there was no Marianne Williamson or Tulsi Gabbard. Here are some of the moments that had social media talking. 

Yang wants you to take his money

Thursday night's debates saw entrepreneur Andrew Yang promise to give 10 American families $1,000 a month for one year, playing off his promotion of universal basic income. New York Magazine spoke to one attorney who questioned if the offer was legal, but no matter, the sheer mention of the offer set off some social-media buzz.

"Yang should have brought out a lottery machine," joked H.Jon Benjamin, who voices Bob Belcher on Bob's Burgers and Archer on Archer. 

Health insurance is sick

Candidates argued about health insurance, with voices raised when Castro accused Biden of forgetting what he'd said earlier. Warren said Americans may like their doctors, but no one likes their health insurance company. Americans weighed in. Wrote one Twitter user, "Elizabeth Warren (is) channeling anyone who has dealt with an insurance company!"

Fight night

The candidates had some tense exchanges, with raised voices and arguments breaking out regularly. Twitter users noticed. One wrote that "watching the Democratic debate truly feels like watching a Real Housewives reunion."

Define 'debate'

But let's all remember, the point of a debate is to debate.

Let's dance

When the debate briefly broke for commercial, ABC aired an ad for Dancing With the Stars, featuring Sean Spicer, former press secretary to President Donald Trump. Maybe not the best choice, based on some social reaction. "Hoooboy, ABC, this is not the audience that wants to see Sean Spicer jogging jauntily along in his career-rehabilitation effort," wrote Washington Post writer Alyssa Rosenberg.

Say what?

Near the end of the debate, protesters interrupted Joe Biden speaking by chanting something in unison, but it was tough to figure out anything they were saying.

Writer Drew Magary joked, "Possibly protesting Rey's coming dark side turn."

Earlier debates were meme-makers too. The first night of the June debates featured candidates demonstrating their Spanish, and the second night included Williamson discussing placing a phone call to New Zealand's prime minister. The candidates again debated later in the summer, when Bernie Sanders announced he "wrote the damn bill," and Kool-Aid and Clorox both earned mentions.

Originally published Sept. 12, 5:28 p.m. PT and updated frequently throughout the debate.