New Jersey Governor Chris Christie just gave Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) the worst verbal beating since the beginning of his campaign. Rubio attacked Christie, and he responded by exposing Rubio’s simple debate tactics in what was one of the best exchanges of the night.
The exchange started when Christie went after Rubio’s experience as a senator and compared it with his experience as a governor. He then said:
It’s a different experience, it’s a much different experience. And the fact is, Marco, you shouldn’t compare yourself to Joe Biden and you shouldn’t say that that’s what we’re doing. Here is exactly what we’re doing.
You have not be involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable. You just simply haven’t.
After Christie had finished, Rubio asked for a chance to respond, and that’s when he tripped off a landmine. Rubio replied:
Well, I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they’ve been downgraded nine times in their credit rating. This country already has a debt problem, we don’t need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of his state.
But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don’t want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America. And when I’m elected president, this will become once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.
Christie saw his opening and took it. He switched to prosecutor mode and ripped into a helpless Rubio.
I think he mentioned me and my record in there, so I think I get a chance to respond. You see, everybody, I want the people at home to think about this. That’s what Washington, D.C. Does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.
This lead to a wild ovation from the audience and Christie did not let up. He continued as he leaned in toward Rubio’s direction getting nice and comfortable:
See Marco — Marco, the thing is this. When you’re president of the United States, when you’re a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I’ve done.
None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United States Senate. It’s a fine job, I’m glad you ran for it, but it does not prepare you for president of the United States.
Now remember what Christie said about Rubio’s “drive-by” political attacks followed by the “memorized 25-second speech”? Take a look at the following exchange between the two candidates.
RUBIO: Chris — Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn’t even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back. And then you stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back to campaign. Those are the facts.
Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
CHRISTIE: There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.
RUBIO: Well, that’s the — that’s the reason why this campaign is so important. Because I think this notion — I think this is an important point. We have to understand what we’re going through here. We are not facing a president that doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows what he is doing. That’s why he’s done the things he’s done.
That’s why we have a president that passed Obamacare and the stimulus. All this damage that he’s done to America is deliberate. This is a president that’s trying to redefine this country. That’s why this election is truly a referendum on our identity as a nation, as a people. Our future is at stake.
This election is not about the past. It is about what kind of country this is going to be in the 21st century, and if we elect someone like Barack Obama, a Hillary Clinton, a Bernie Sanders or anyone like that, our children are going to be the first Americans to inherit a diminishes country. That will not happen if I’m elected.
The entire exchange reminds me of a game of dirty dozens, where one kid is so much funnier and crueler than the other. And that kid’s just rattling off vicious joke after joke making the other kid look lame. Christie brilliantly manages to muddle and befuddle a hapless Rubio in their final exchange.
CHRISTIE: You know what the shame is — you know what the shame is, Marco? The shame is that you would actually criticize somebody for showing up to work, plowing the streets, getting the trains running back on time when you’ve never been responsible for that in your entire life.
RUBIO: Chris, you didn’t want to go back. You didn’t want to go back.
CHRISTIE: And the fact is, I went back, it got done and here’s…
RUBIO: You didn’t want to go back, Chris.
CHRISTIE: Oh, so — wait a second. Is that one of the skills you get as a United States senator ESP also? Because I don’t think it is.
RUBIO: Chris, everybody — you said you weren’t going to go back. He told everyone he wasn’t going to go back. They had to shame him into going back. And when he decided to go back, he criticized the young lady, saying, what am I supposed to do, go back with a mop and clean up the flooding?
CHRISTIE: It gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points.
MUIR: Governor Christie — thank you, Governor. I will mention — listen…
RUBIO: … It’s your record, it’s not a talking point…
The sad thing is that everything Rubio countered with was mostly correct. Christie did not want to return to his home state to address the storm, and he has a horrible record as governor.
However, fortunately for Christie, this was a GOP debate which means style scores much more than facts. Also, Rubio lives in a glass house and does not possess the ability to adapt and think on his feet during a debate. Christie exposed his incompetence and weakness, which in a Republican debate could be a fatal blow.
It will be interesting to see if the primary results reflect the damage Rubio suffered from his New Hampshire debate beating at the hands of Christie.