It took a little while, but Tuesday’s vice presidential debate eventually created an internet meme: “That Mexican thing.”
The words were uttered by Republican candidate Mike Pence after his opponent, Democratic candidate Tim Kaine, brought up GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s infamous comment about Mexican immigrants for a fourth time during the debate.
“Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again,” Pence said to Kaine. Trump initially said in June of 2015: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The comment was quickly denounced online, and on television courtesy of Stephen Colbert. The Late Show host went live on CBS following the debate, and mocked Pence for his slip. “ ‘You’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again,’” Colbert said in an incredulous tone. “It has a name, governor, I call it Pedro. And it taught me Spanish.”
Colbert thought Pence won the debate – “It was like watching a loaf of white bread get pistol whipped by a jar of mayonnaise: not a lot of flavor but there was a clear winner” – but took the Indiana governor to task over his policies, including for signing a “religious freedom” law that discriminated against the LGBTQ community. (Pence later signed an amendment to the law to prevent discrimination.)
After Colbert played an out-of-context clip of Pence saying during the debate that he spends a portion of every day on his knees, a reference to prayer, the host joked, “Apparently, Mike Pence is also very close to Vladimir Putin… Fair warning, Mike, Indiana businesses can now refuse to serve you. It’s your law.”