Last Saturday’s Republican presidential debate was perhaps better than any Saturday Night Live sketch (except maybe the ones with Larry David as Bernie Sanders). Retired neurosurgeon and Republican nominee Ben Carson had an awkward moment or two during the debate—but none was quite as cringe-worthy as his bumbled introduction.
At the beginning of the debate, moderators David Muir and Martha Raddatz began to introduce the candidates one by one, but things quickly went astray. After Chris Christie successfully made his way on stage, Raddatz then called Carson’s name, but it went unheard over the roar of the audience. So Carson stayed waiting in the wings, and the ABC News camera stayed on him for what felt like a painfully long time.
The moderators kept on rolling with intros, but this did nothing to deter the sheer awkwardness of the situation: As they called senator Ted Cruz, Carson did try to walk on, but he caught himself and stopped. A stage crew member then tried to usher Carson on stage, but the candidate ignored his hand-waving and stayed put. When the moderators called Donald Trump’s name, Trump headed towards the stage but then inexplicably stopped and stood next to Carson as if in solidarity, making things doubly embarrassing for everyone watching (and presumably for everyone working at ABC News).
Finally, the last moments of this now extended train wreck were truly botched: With just four out of seven spots filled onstage, Radditz said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates!” In addition to the absent duo of Trump and Carson—who eventually did emerge—governor John Kasich had also been forgotten about and was quickly brought on stage. (You can catch Kasich awkwardly peek his head out behind Donald Trump in the video above at 1:50.)
Afterwards in the spin room, Carson was asked if the move was planned. “Oh no,” he laughed, “it wasn’t planned.” Sometimes the truth is funnier than fiction.