Democratic debate 2019 memes, night one: Everyone, show off your Spanish

Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker slip into Espanol and create a fiesta of memes. Plus, Trump's bored.

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

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

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

There was way more Spanish than expected, and a major technical goof, and the cameras caught a Cory Booker facial expression that quickly went viral. The first debate of the Democratic presidential primary season, leading up to the 2020 election, aired live Wednesday night and produced its share of meme-worthy moments. 

Because the Democratic field of candidates is so large, 10 contenders debated Wednesday from Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with an additional 10 taking a turn Thursday. NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo are broadcasting both debates from 6 to 8 p.m. PT.

Here are the top memes from round one. We'll be back for round two Thursday. 

Beto speaks Spanish 

One of the first 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. "Beto managed to avoid answering the question in both Spanish and English," one Twitter user wrote. 

Booker the looker

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

Y mas Espanol

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. He broke out into Espanol too. "Joe Biden definitely just bought Rosetta Stone," a Twitter user joked. 

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."

Originally published June 26.