After suffering endless political attacks from both sides of the aisle over his repetition of talking points during speeches and debates, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio accused frontrunner Donald Trump of doing the same thing in Thursday night’s volatile Republican presidential primary debate.
“He says five things,” Rubio said after accusing Trump of repeating himself in explaining his health care plan. “Everyone’s dumb. He’s going to make America great again. Win, win, win. He’s winning in the polls. And the lines around the states. Every night. Same thing.”
During a GOP debate last month, Rubio repeated a canned line about how President Obama “knows exactly what he’s doing,” and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) effectively attacked him over the “memorized 25-second speech.” Rubio followed this performance with subsequent repetitions, and was then ridiculed so much for being robotic that Rubio himself blamed the debate performance for his poor showing in the New Hampshire primary.
On Thursday night, Rubio was under pressure to hit back at Trump, who appeared to have a clear path to the nomination following his wins in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. After nearly an hour in which Rubio and fellow candidate Ted Cruz attacked Trump over hiring illegal immigrants, running a failed university, and his stated desire to make deals in Washington, the subject turned to health care.
Trump advocated eliminating interstate health insurance restrictions and Rubio explained his plan before saying “you may not be aware of this Donald, because you don’t follow this stuff very closely.” He then asked Trump for more about his plan than the elimination of interstate insurance restrictions.
“You don’t know what it means,” Trump said. “That is the problem.”
“What is your plan?” Rubio asked again
“The biggest problem, he doesn’t know,” Trump said. “The biggest problem he’s got is he doesn’t know.”
Rubio again asked for Trump’s plan.
“I watched him melt down two weeks ago with Chris Christie,” Trump interjected. “I’ve got to tell you, the biggest problem he’s got is he really don’t know about the lines. The biggest thing we’ve got and the reason we have no competition is because we have lines around the state and you have –”
“Already mentioned that as part of my plan,” Rubio cut in. “I know what that is. What else is part of your plan? The only thing is to get rid of the lines around the states? What else is part of your health care plan?”
It was a good question, as reforming the health care system to allow insurers to sell coverage across state lines is ineffective, and an old, stale proposal emblematic of how the current GOP field’s health care plans are the same as they were in 2008.
Trump again attempted to explain what the “lines around the states” meant. Rubio again asked for Trump’s plan.
“When you get rid of the lines, it brings in competition,” Trump said. “So instead of having one insurance company taking care of New York or Texas, you’ll have many. They’ll compete, and it will be a beautiful thing.”
“Right and what — so that’s the only part of the plan?” Rubio asked. “Just the lines. The interstate competition?”
“The nice part about — you have many different plans,” Trump said. “You’ll have competition. You’ll have so many different plans.”
Rubio took a chance.
RUBIO: Now he’s repeating himself.
TRUMP: No, I’m not — no, no, no, no. I don’t repeat myself. I don’t repeat myself.
RUBIO: You don’t repeat yourself?
TRUMP: Here’s the guy who repeats himself.
RUBIO: I don’t — you repeat yourself every day.
TRUMP: Talking about repeating. I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago —
RUBIO: I saw you repeat yourself five times four seconds ago.
TRUMP: I watched him. I watched him melt down on the stage like I’ve never seen anybody — I thought he came out of a swimming pool.
RUBIO: He says five things. Everyone’s dumb. He’s going to make America great again. Win, win, win. He’s winning in the polls. And the lines around the states. Every night. Same thing.
TRUMP: I tell the truth. I tell the truth.
MODERATOR: You will have time to respond, if you can just let Mr. Trump respond. If you can talk a little bit more about your plan.
TRUMP: We’re going to have many different plans —
RUBIO: He’s done it again!
“There’s going to be competition,” Trump concluded. “There is going to be competition among all of the states and the insurance companies. They’re going to have many, many different plans.”
Bash asked Trump if there was anything else he would like to add to that. Trump said “no, there’s nothing to add. What’s to add? What is to add?”