That was the implied sound effect Tuesday night as Sen. Rand Paul casually reminded Donald Trump about China’s lack of participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the sweeping trade deal among the U.S. and 11 other countries. Trump had been on a tear, railing about how the deal was “a disaster” and saying China was the “No. 1 abuser” of the U.S.
FOR THE RECORD:
Nov. 11, 4:53 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said that Paul corrected Trump. Paul reminded Trump that China was not part of the deal.
Paul waited a beat to interject.
“Hey, Gerard,” he said, addressing moderator Gerard Baker, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal. “You know, we might want to point out that China’s not part of this deal.”
He shrugged casually as the audience laughed.
The line -- a rare zinger from the senator, who hasn’t had a ton of talking time in the debates -- went over well on social media. MSNBC’s Joan Walsh called it the best thing Paul has said in any debate.
"Hey Gerard, we might wanna point out China isn't part of this deal." Rand Paul's best line in any debate yet.— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) November 11, 2015
Atlantic editor David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, expressed disbelief about the clarity of the statement, theorizing that it may have been a “rip in the space-time continuum.”
Rip in the space-time continuum— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 11, 2015
Others were baffled that Paul was the only person who seemed to know the basics of the trade deal, which has returned to the headlines in recent days as the full text of the complex deal was released.
Why was Rand Paul the only person on the stage who knew that China was not part of the trade agreement.— Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) November 11, 2015
In general, people were pretty tickled by it.
Bwaahahaha!! Score one for Rand Paul! "China's not part of this deal...' #GOPdebate— Snarkaroni™ (@Snarkaroni) November 11, 2015
Rand Paul: "We might want to point out that China's not part of this deal." Ha, burned Trump.— Amy Peikoff (@AmyPeikoff) November 11, 2015
Best moment of the evening: Trump, asked about TPP, goes on and on about China, and then Rand Paul points out that China is not a party. …— naturgesetz (@blognaturgesetz) November 11, 2015
Finally, Variety’s Evan Shapiro came up with the best possible GIF approximation of what happened.