Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence was doing well at Tuesday night's debate, until he fell into the same xenophobic, anti-Hispanic rhetoric that has haunted the Donald Trump campaign since the beginning.
When Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine brought up controversial remarks Trump made about Mexicans when he kicked off his presidential bid last year, Pence tried to brush the comments off.
"Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again," Pence retorted.
In that instant, the catchy, oft-repeated complaints Pence was making about Hillary Clinton's "insult-driven campaign" throughout the debate fell by the wayside. Twitter went crazy.
Polls show viewers had preferred Pence's more polished performance to that of an overzealous Kaine. The Virginia senator's forced interruptions came off badly, making him sound irritable. But Pence's "That Mexican thing" comment toward the end of the debate made his performance go up in smoke.
The reaction was swift.
On Twitter, people used the hashtag #ThatMexicanThing to share personal immigration stories.
High-profile Twitter users weighed in, including a Latino congressman and a former Mexican ambassador to the U.S.
Others used the hashtag to comment on the state of the election.
Pollster Latino Decisions used the opportunity to discuss Pence's immigration track record, which aligns with some of Trump's most controversial proposals.
"'That Mexican thing' that Pence shrugged off last night will very likely be the end of a Trump-Pence 2016 ticket just like 'self-deportation' was for Mitt Romney in 2012," wrote Hispanic news site Latino Rebels Wednesday. "The Republican Party just doesn’t get it and it looks like it never will."
David Adams contributed to this report.