WASHINGTON -- In his opening statement at Tuesday's CNN debate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said, "I want to restore America's promise, and I'm going to do that ..."

Before he could continue, the audience began clapping, and instead of continuing, Romney made a joke, taking inspiration from a famous TV character: "As George Costanza would say, when they're applauding, stop."

Romney has quoted the "Seinfeld" character before. At the debate on Dec. 7, also sponsored by CNN, Romney said, "Remember the George Costanza line? When they're laughing and applauding, you sit down."

At a South Carolina town hall in December, Romney also said, "As George Costanza said, 'when they applaud, just stop.'"

Romney is referring to a March 19, 1998 episode of "Seinfeld" in which Costanza devises a plan to end every conversation on a "high note" and "leave them wanting more."

The tactic originated in a conversation between George and Jerry Seinfeld. From the episode:

GEORGE: I had 'em, Jerry. They loved me.

JERRY: And then?

GEORGE: I lost them. I can usually come up with one good comment during a meeting but by the end it's buried under a pile of gaffs and bad puns.

JERRY: Showmanship, George. When you hit that high note, you say goodnight and walk off.

GEORGE: I can't just leave.

JERRY: That's the way they do it in Vegas.

GEORGE: You never played Vegas.

JERRY: I hear things.

Watch the episode here.