TIME’s Mark Halperin may have given Mitt Romney an acceptable “B-” grade for his debate peformance last night, but it’s fair to suspect that Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander would have failed the former Massachusetts governor. You just don’t misquote George Costanza. And misquoting George Costanza twice? Please.
Last night, in the opening minutes of the GOP contenders’ 20th primary debate, Romney dusted off what he thought was an old standby of a Seinfeld joke. “As George Costanza would say, ‘When they’re applauding, stop,'” Romney said, as he was receiving polite applause.
Nice line, except that anyone familiar with the enduringly popular ’90s sitcom knows that wasn’t how it went, and it was Jerry’s line, anyway. (“Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off,” Jerry says, as Buzzfeed noted.)
Armchair pundits immediately zinged the candidate on Twitter as it happened. Even Costanza himself, Jason Alexander, had some harsh words:
Thrilled Gov. Romney enjoys my old character. I enjoyed the character he used 2 b 2. If he'd embrace that again, he'd b a great candidate.—
jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) February 23, 2012
Romney’s dedicated Seinfeld research team must not have caught his last misquote. In December, he delivered nearly the same phrase at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum. And it didn’t go unnoticed. Even Jon Stewart quipped about the mini-gaffe, “See, first of all that’s not a George Costanza line, it’s JERRY’s line. And, you got the line wrong.”
Maybe, during debate #21 he’ll make amends to Jerry, George, Elaine et al.