Months ago during the CNBC Republican debate, one of the more memorable moments (aside from the altercations with the moderators) was when Marco Rubio fired back at an attack from Jeb Bush. “The only reason you’re doing it now is because someone has convinced you that attacking me will help you.”
At the most recent debate, Rubio ironically came off as the one coached, repeating the same lines FOUR times during the debate.
Chris Christie went so far as to mock Rubio for his “memorized 25-second speech” – which was then repeated again even after he was called out for it. FOX News put together a collection of those moments below:
As the LA Times reported:
By midway through the debate, Rubio was sweating visibly, wiping his face at one point. He rebounded later with forceful explanations of his foreign policy positions, but being on the defensive most of the night gave him little time to forward the themes that have animated his campaigning here: that he is the best situated to win the White House, and that he can do so by unifying Republicans.
The attacks hurt Rubio in part because they hit at a central problem for his candidacy: Much like Mitt Romney four years ago, Rubio cannot talk about his biggest accomplishment in office. For Romney, the taboo topic was the healthcare law he passed as governor of Massachusetts. For Rubio, it is his effort to push a compromise measure to break the long gridlock over immigration — a bill that passed the Senate but succumbed to conservative opposition in the House and is bitterly opposed by many GOP voters.
Yet if the battering damages Rubio, it also may boomerang against Christie. Voters with multiple options often punish the author of negativity even as they embrace the message. With Christie doing their work, the other two governors had more time to offer a positive frame for their own candidacies.
It’s only two days until the New Hampshire primary. Rubio did exceptionally well in the Iowa caucus despite placing third – as his probability of winning the Republican primary jumped ahead of all the other candidates (according to betting odds). It will be interesting to see the effect this altercation had on the NH results.
To Rubio’s credit, the Democrat front runner is a robot and that hasn’t seemed to hurt her.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]