Thursday night's Republican presidential debate was widely expected to be a charged, hot-headed affair, and it certainly lived up to the expectations so far: Donald Trump's "big hands" came up in the debate, and he was not exactly subtle about what he meant.
It might not make a ton of sense if you haven't been following the somewhat juvenile rhetoric of the GOP primary race so far, specifically the lines that Rubio started trying out in the aftermath of the last debate. In particular, his line about Trump having "small hands" ― a very obvious, leading joke about the size of the billionaire businessman's penis, although Rubio avoided ever actually saying that.
It was a line of attack that clearly got Trump's attention, however ― he has a well-earned reputation for personal vanity, and his comments after the fact about his "beautiful hands" made it fairly clear that the joke had gotten under his skin. You never could have predicted he'd be bothered enough by it to offer up a defense of his penis size during a nationally televised debate, however ― that, at least, must be too far for Trump, right? Wrong! In an unprovoked aside, Trump decided to tell voters, "I guarantee you, there is no problem."
The moment sparked a frenzy on social media, with some Trump supporters reveling in the bombastic boast, anti-Trump conservatives lamenting the moment as a gross and depressing farce, and plenty of folks just pointing and laughing. In a very competitive field, this may well be the single most outrageous remark that Trump's made during the debates ― tearing into your rivals is one thing, but trying to inflate the public's sense of your penis is quite another thing.
I could be wrong, but I can't think of any other instance when a presidential candidate has made such a crude reference to their physical endowments, if, for no other reason, than that the conventional wisdom suggests says it should alienate voters. But that's the strange, grisly, fascinating truth about Trump throughout this election cycle ― whether it's because grassroots conservatives are in revolt, or people are holding their nose to support a relative "outsider," or Trump's just that compelling a charismatic strongman figure ― nothing ever seems to stick.
You won't have to wait long to see if this freshly immature quip costs him any voters, though. The GOP caucuses in Kansas, Kentucky, and Maine are coming up on March 5, along with the party's primary in Louisiana.