It was a moment no one saw coming and one that undoubtedly broke the tension in an evening predominantly characterised by tense exchanges between Trump and moderator Savannah Guthrie.
Paulette Dale appeared quite smitten with the president who grinned and thanked her.
Ms Dale then asked Mr Trump about immigration policy and Dreamers — those brought to the US as children by parents who entered the country illegally — and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, that allows them to remain.
The president answered in a vague way in which he said he would “take care” of them, before lauding his own efforts to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
Speaking to Miami New Times after the event, Ms Dale made it clear that despite her compliment to the president, she does not actually like him, but her compliment was sincere.
“I believe the man has a very nice smile; there was no reason not to comment on it,” she said. “Smiles are important to me. I like nice teeth.”
Although she was pleased with Trump’s response on DACA, she said it was not enough to sway her, and she would be voting for Joe Biden during Florida’s early-voting period next week.
On Trump she said: “He's very combative and he doesn't believe in science, and that's a big concern to me.
“By his own words, he knows more than the generals, knows more than the public-health experts, knows more than anybody. I believe Joe Biden will listen to the experts," she added.
Ms Dale says the issue of immigration and DACA is very personal to her both as the daughter of immigrants who fled religious persectution in eastern Europe, and having spent 35 years as a professor at Miami Dade Collage at which many of her students were Dreamers.
As part of a focus group called Ask Miami for several years, Ms Dale was invited to submit a question to ask to either Trump or Biden.
NBC contacted her a few hours later and said that they like her question regarding DACA and invited her to attend.
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