Florida Senator Marco Rubio eviscerated real estate tycoon Donald J. Trump in front of a national audience last night. One moment in particular stands out — when Rubio did his best Trump impression.
Trump laid out his plan for healthcare, and while he attacked Obamacare and supported covering pre-existing conditions, The Donald focused the bulk of his remarks on allowing insurance companies to sell the same plans across state lines. He said, “We’ve got to get rid of the lines around the states.” He repeated this multiple times, because he thought it was an important point.
Rubio responded, “I know what that is, but what else is part of your plan? So your only thing is to get rid of the ‘lines around the states,’ what else is part of your plan?” Trump just kept returning to the same point — the lines around the states. Rubio even yielded his time to let Trump lay out his plan, and The Donald just repeated himself.
When Rubio called him out on it, Trump declared, “I don’t repeat myself. He repeats himself,” referring to Rubio’s embarrassing repetition of the talking point that “Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” during a recent debate exchange with former candidate Chris Christie — a damaging moment in Rubio’s campaign.
Trump returned to that moment — “I watched him repeat himself five times, four weeks ago!” To which Rubio immediately responded, to great laughter and applause, “and I saw you repeat yourself five times, five seconds ago!”
— The Weekly Standard (@weeklystandard) February 26, 2016
But that was just the warm-up for Rubio. A few seconds later, he gave the best five-second Trump impression ever:
I’ve seen him repeat himself every night. He says five things: Everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again, we’re gonna win win win, he’s winning in the polls, and the lines around the state. Every night, same thing!
Throughout the debate, Rubio and Ted Cruz ran circles around Trump, who was given time to respond but was never able to adequately address their concerns. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson even piped up, “Can somebody attack me, please?”
Nevertheless, Cruz and Rubio’s eloquent presentation of why the Emperor Donald has no clothes is likely to fall on deaf ears. Trump repeated his strong talking points, that the senators were “all talk, no action,” and that he was the only person on stage who has hired anyone. Both of these points were arguably false (if hiring campaign and Senate staff counts, which is debatable since they’re using taxpayer money), but the message got across — I may not be eloquent, but I am competent, and I will fight for you.
This is what Trump’s supporters wanted to hear, and that’s why overnight online polls showed him winning the debate by large margins, despite the senators’ relentless attacks on him for hiring illegal immigrants and his campaign’s having little substance in the way of specific policy prescriptions.
Here’s the video of Rubio’s best moment: