Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), buoyed by a better-than-expected third place finish in Iowa, has become the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination. As such, he’s become the focus of attacks from many of the other candidates.
On the trail, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) has warned New Hampshire voters not to elect Rubio because he is a first-term senator, just like President Obama. Rubio responded to this during the debate with a clearly rehearsed response, arguing that Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing” and is trying to change the country “to make America more like the rest of the world.”
Rubio then launched into a series of attacks on Christie’s record as Governor of New Jersey. Christie responded and Rubio replied, oddly, by repeating his same canned answer about Obama knowing what he’s doing — almost word-for-word from moments before.
Christie noticed this and criticized Rubio for delivering a “memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.” In response, Rubio oddly attempted to deliver the same speech again. Christie tried to interrupt Rubio by noting this was the same “memorized 25-second speech.” But Rubio pressed on and delivered a version of the speech again.
Later in the debate, Christie and Donald Trump seized on the substance of Rubio’s response as well. Christie said that anyone who thinks Obama “knows what he is doing” doesn’t know enough to manage the government.
Expect to hear a lot more about Rubio’s 25-second speech in the run-up to New Hampshire’s primary next week.