What Was On Ted Cruz's Face At The GOP Debate? Different Theories Are Abound

During Thursday night's Republican presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, viewers at home had a lot of things to follow ― Marco Rubio's furtive attacks, John Kasich's usual ho-hum passivity, Donald Trump's compensatory boasts. And, in one of the biggest mysteries of the night, the question on countless people's minds: What was on Ted Cruz's face during the GOP debate?

It was a moment that grabbed some attention, although you might not have even noticed it if you were watching on a small screen, or with poor resolution ― it was the rare moment of subtle grossness in a political debate, when you're left to wonder, "huh, what did I just watch?"

Here's the basic idea: While Cruz was talking about how people were "angry with Washington," and clearly trying to stir up some sympathetic vibes with any disaffected Trump voters, you could suddenly, clearly see a little white something-or-other stuck against his upper lip. He never wiped it away or acknowledged its presence in any overt way. He just waited until it work its way onto his lips, then swallowed it. And needless to say, the speculation came quickly ― here's what the moment looked like, in a video captured by The New Republic.

New Republic on YouTube

So, what in the world was it? You might not want to look at a close-up video, because it's... well, let's just say that a tight zoom on Ted Cruz's mouth is nobody's idea of a good time. But it's in the close-up that the true nature of Cruz's mystery matter becomes clear ― it looks an awful lot like it jumped up from under his lower lip onto his upper lip, before sliding down far enough for Cruz to safely tuck it away within his lips again. Sorry for the graphic description, I know.

There were plenty of competing theories on social media, as you might expect. Cruz's mouth (largely by way of his notorious, classic smilefrowns) has been a topic of conversation long before Thursday night, but this was a whole new world of uncomfortable weirdness.

By most accounts, Cruz had a pretty good night besides, letting Rubio do most of the costly, tiring tangling with Trump, while he laid back and periodically launched into some of his usual arch-conservative ovations. But for plenty of people, the mystery of that little white ― fleck, ball, bit of crud, booger, who knows ― won't soon be forgotten.