President Donald Trump naturally sparked praise and outrage during his NBC town hall but he also seemed to have some competition for attention during the night.
While Trump crushed the event Thursday with NBC moderator Savanah Guthrie, deftly taking apart her liberal talking points, it was a woman sitting behind him in the audience of Florida voters who suddenly captured the adoration – and wrath – of viewers.
The mystery woman, later identified as a pro-Trump supporter who ran as an independent for Congress in Miami in 2018, could be seen over the president’s left shoulder throughout the live event from Miami. An enthusiastic supporter who repeatedly nodded at Trump’s remarks, she even at one point could be seen flashing a thumbs-up sign.
Her cheerleading held the attention of a range of viewers who were both captivated with her and despised her, while also giving her the name #redmasklady.
Whoever this woman is nodding her head – we stand with her! pic.twitter.com/By1TJf0uy8
— Students For Trump (@TrumpStudents) October 16, 2020
— Ignacio W. Palacios (@Onkayaks) October 16, 2020
Trump fielded one after another confrontational question as he fact-checked Guthrie and shut her down after she tried to accuse him of not condemning white supremacy. From topics ranging from the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, immigration and his Democrat critics, the president delivered his answers in the televised event which was held at the same time as an ABC town hall with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Philadelphia.
The woman to the right of the NBC screen during Trump’s responses, wearing a light top and red mask, gave her vigorous head-nodding approval to many of the president’s responses, setting off a liberal meltdown.
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) October 16, 2020
The nodding woman is driving me nuts.
— Mark Hertling (@MarkHertling) October 16, 2020
— ByThePeople 💙💙🌊🌊 (@ByThePeople8) October 16, 2020
Guthrie challenges Trump to release his taxes. Trump says he can’t do it while he’s under audit and the woman behind him is nodding like he just accepted Christ as his personal savior.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) October 16, 2020
Though the event was not billed as one reserved for only undecided voters, many critics wondered aloud if the audience member was a plant by NBC or was being paid to agree with Trump instead of appearing neutral.
Who thinks the Black woman in the audience behind Trump who keeps nodding to what he says was part of the campaign negotiation to have him on NBC News?
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) October 16, 2020
I hope the woman perpetually nodding behind Trump got paid in advance.
— Matt Mitovich (@MattMitovich) October 16, 2020
I’m feeling a lot of rage about this
— Liz Garbus (@lizgarbus) October 16, 2020
Trump is going on about how he is under leveraged and not to worry about the 400 million he owes and that woman behind him is nodding and shaking her head like she’s getting paid by the muscle movement
I would love to know who put her there
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) October 16, 2020
The Trump campaign must have paid that woman in the red mask behind trump because she’s nodding emphatically at actual gibberish
— Katie MacBride (@msmacb) October 16, 2020
But the #redmasklady was celebrated by other viewers who wanted to know who she was.
— Erin Hunsicker (@erinhunsy) October 16, 2020
Who was the woman sitting behind Trump with the red mask ? Hope she’s on Twitter.. she was a great asset to his INTERROGATION pic.twitter.com/dfq1JktKRi
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) October 16, 2020
— Heather Moore (@mom2JPbaseball) October 16, 2020
As it turns out, the woman is immigration attorney Mayra Joli who ran as an independent candidate in Florida’s 27th Congressional District in 2018, according to the Miami Herald‘s Alex Daugherty.
Here’s some background on her, from 2017. I’ll have a story up on this soon. https://t.co/bryL8owPvd
— Alex Daugherty (@alextdaugherty) October 16, 2020
“We have your back! You see, you see you are the best,” Joli told Trump in a video she posted to her Facebook page after the event.
“Where are you from?” the president asked her.
“I’m from the Dominican Republic, but I’m American, I’m an American,” Joli replied.
Daugherty described Joli as “a Brickell-based immigration attorney and five-time beauty queen who dabbles as a pundit on Spanish-language television.”
“She’s also a fervent Trump supporter and frequently posts about him on Facebook. Joli said Trump was the inspiration behind her 2018 congressional campaign,” he added.
She was certainly aware of all the attention her town hall appearance garnered and seemed to have some comments to share.
Those liebres desquiciadas hating on #noddinglady… see what I do without opening my big mouth?
Asi que a mi, no me vengan a joder la puta paciencua ok!
Joli was an instant hit with the president’s supporters.
Hail to the woman in the red mask! 🙌🏼 👍🏻❤️ https://t.co/tJ4dzJuR9c
— Cynthia (@LIConservgal2) October 16, 2020
I don’t know who the woman with the red mask is behind @realDonaldTrump but I’m becoming a huge fan of her agreement head shakes when the president answers questions.
— Jonathan T Gilliam (@JGilliam_SEAL) October 16, 2020
Aww, the girl who was nodding got to take pics and talk to him. ❤🙂
— Carol Adams 🇺🇸💙🙏🎃 (@kalolakini) October 16, 2020
The woman in the white shirt and red mask sitting behind the President is making this whole debacle bearable. #TrumpTownHall
— Senator Melissa Melendez (@senatormelendez) October 16, 2020
Gotta love the masked woman behind Trump nodding her head every time Trump says anything. #townhall
— Gretchen Carlson (@GretchenCarlson) October 16, 2020
I wish I had someone who believed me the way that woman with red mask believes Trump. We could all be so lucky.
— Mike Mahoney (@MMahoney224) October 16, 2020
The woman with the red mask sitting behind @realDonaldTrump, we see you! 👏🏼❤️
— Stephanie Konicki Ferguson (@StephieKonicki) October 16, 2020