Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was mocked by his opponents for his “forced smile” during the second Republican presidential debate Wednesday night.
“The moment when DeSantis remembered that his team told him to not smile like a creep,” wrote one user on X along with a video clip from the debate stage.
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.) knocked DeSantis’ grin as well, writing that “there’s nothing more painful in the universe than Ron DeSantis trying to smile.”
“Oh my, DeSantis did it again tonight: the rant, followed by the forced smile, followed by the grimace. Hilarious. He is beyond saving,” remarked MSNBC broadcaster Mehdi Hasan.
“how has no one trained desantis out of doing his creepy fake-smile thing,” asked another X user.
“Please someone help him smile,” wrote someone else.
It’s not the first time DeSantis has faced mockery for his facial expressions.
In August, social media users had similar reactions to a video clip of DeSantis appearing to look strained while answering a question about a memo posted online by a company with close links to Never Back Down, a super PAC for the DeSantis’ campaign, ahead of the first debate.
“Hes got Homelander tics now,” commented one X user at the time, prompting other users to agree that they “will never unsee it now.”
With President Donald Trump absent from the debate again, DeSantis is the frontrunner onstage Wednesday.
According to a RealClearPolitics average of recent, national Republican nomination polls, DeSantis holds a commanding lead ahead of the other Republican contenders besides Trump. The RCP average shows DeSantis at 14.4% support nationwide—more than 42 points behind Trump, but 8.6 points ahead of the next closest candidate, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
However, in two key early states—New Hampshire and South Carolina—DeSantis, on average, is polling behind Haley. He is also tied with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in the senator’s home state.