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How nervous is Marco Rubio tonight? Just look at this smile.


The line on Rubio is that he’s over-practiced and slick, but every once in a while, he slips a little, like when he repeated the same “dispel with this fiction” talking point several times in one debate. That’s why this one fraction of a second—above, and which I’ve slowed down slightly—from tonight’s CNN debate caught my eye. 

Rubio stumbled in his opening lines, saying, “Every election is important. I believe this is the most important in a... -lection in a generation.” This is the last debate before the Florida primary, a must-win for him. As he finished his statement, he seemed relieved to have gotten it all out: “And the 21st is going to be a new American century.” As GIF’d above, Rubio smiled, and hesitated just a little, and smiled more, looking just a little bit fake. “Am I smiling enough? More? More??”

A year ago, that handsome smile was expected to win America’s hearts. Now it seems the best he can hope for is it gets him through Florida without any more embarrassment.