It was the side-eye glance seen ’round the internet.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) fired off a look at rival Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke when the former Texas congressman spoke Spanish during his first answer in Wednesday night’s 2020 presidential primary debate.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 27, 2019
Did observers blow it out of proportion in an age when any quick glance can be turned into a screengrab and a meme?
Or was there a deeper meaning to it?
Turns out Booker did have something on his mind when he fired off the now-infamous look.
He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
“I just knew he had laid a gauntlet down and I was talking a little bit with (Julián) Castro. Both he and I knew, as people who can speak Spanish, that now we were gonna bring it as well.”
He said he didn’t quite remember what was on his mind but said he “realized that there’s a lot of bilingual people, some even trilingual, in this race, and I’m happy to have those skills.”
"I can't really remember… I just knew he had laid a gauntlet down," said a chuckling Cory Booker in response to a viral photo in which he appeared to be giving a "side eye" to rival Beto O'Rourke who was speaking in Spanish. #DemDebate https://t.co/BaX6F2oK1e pic.twitter.com/tKJhiZ0Vgi
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) June 27, 2019
He made similar comments to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:
Chris Matthews asks Cory Booker about "the look." "He threw down the gauntlet, & I had to respond," Booker says. "….I was listening to him & I was like, OK, fine, it's good that he's showing that. …I'm nowhere near fluent, but I'm conversational. We need to do more of that" pic.twitter.com/mQvVQ2c8M1
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) June 27, 2019
Booker responded later in the debate with a little Spanish of his own.