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Kamala Harris' facial expressions bring the vice presidential debate memes

That fly wasn't the only topic debate watchers were buzzing about.

Kamala Harris at tonight's debate.
Kim Raff/Bloomberg via Getty Images

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

An anonymous fly may have dominated the buzz from Wednesday night's vice presidential debate, but the two human candidates earned some discussion too. Vice President Mike Pence, whose hair hosted the rogue fly, came in for debate over his sore-looking left eye. And Sen. Kamala Harris, his opponent, turned out not to have a poker face.

The eyes have it

Pence definitely had a notable sore area on his left eye, though at press time, representatives had not responded to a Los Angeles Times request for comment about what was wrong. Twitter users noticed, and speculated freely. Some went for the jokes, including comedian Michael Ian Black, who wrote, "Mike Pence's tie really brings out his pink eye."

Some tried to tie the look of Pence's eye to the coronavirus, though he tested negative before the debate. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have both tested positive, and the president was briefly hospitalized.

The National Institutes of Health coronavirus page lists conjunctivitis, an eye inflammation or infection, as a symptom of the disease, and Twitter users knew that.

"Pink eye is a symptom of COVID-19," wrote actor Kumail Nanjiani. "Saying that for no reason at all."

Eye issues cross party lines. Joe Biden also had eye woes back in 2019, when blood appeared in the corner of his eye during CNN's climate town hall meeting.

Face facts

Sen. Kamala Harris didn't seem to have an eye injury, but her face still made headlines, namely for her silent but powerful expressions, most aimed at Pence.

"Kamala's face when Pence is talking is the same face my mother made whenever I was explaining why I didn't make curfew," wrote one Twitter user. Wrote another, "That's a middle school teacher face."

Naturally, not everyone was a fan of Harris' expressions, especially conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, who called Harris "Smirkala" and tweeted, "Kamala's sassy face may make Hollywood, Claudia Conway and BLM happy, but she looks like an impudent tweener."

Summing it up

And at least one tweet connected the two candidates' appearances. "Kamala Harris' stink eye vs. Mike Pence's pink eye," wrote one Twitter user.

While this was the only vice presidential candidate debate, two more presidential debates are scheduled, one for Oct. 15 and one for Oct. 22.