“Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
It was the line heard around the world. And then it was heard again. And again. And again. At Saturday night’s Republican presidential candidate’s debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) repeated versions of this line five times — including two times after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized Rubio for he propensity for robotically repeating a “memorized 25 second speech.” It was, as ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos put it Sunday morning, “not a good moment” for Rubio. Rubio, Stephanopoulos noted, is “getting pounded for repeating that speech.”
In response to this criticism, Rubio defended himself by repeating a canned speech.
“I would pay them to keep running that clip because that’s what I believe passionately. It’s one of the reasons why I’m not running for reelection to the Senate and I’m running for president,” Rubio told Stephanopoulos. Then he launched into a riff that anyone who has followed Rubio’s campaign would find very familiar.
“As far as that message, I hope they keep running it and I’m going to keep saying because it’s true,” Rubio said. “What [Obama’s] trying to do to America, it’s part of a plan. He has said he wanted to change the country; he’s doing it in a way that is robbing us of everything that makes us special.”
Rubio added that this message is “what I’m going to continue to say because it happens to be one of the main reasons why I am running…”
This is the greatest country in the history of mankind because of a certain set of principles. Barack Obama wants us to abandon those principles that he has spent seven years putting in place policies that rip them from us: undermining the Constitution, undermining free enterprise, undermining our standing in the world, weakening America, apologizing for us on the global stage.
ThinkProgress found at least four examples of Rubio saying virtually the exact same thing in just three Republican presidential debates.
- In the December 15 GOP debate, Rubio introduced what appears to be an early version of this line: “there have always been people in American politics that wanted America to be more like the rest of the world. And In 2008, one of them was elected president of this country and the result has been a disaster.”
- In the next GOP debate, which took place January 14, Rubio delivered a version of the line again, along with the array of particulars he laid out in his interview with Stephanopoulous. “In 2008, we elected a president that didn’t want to fix America,” Rubio told the debate audience. “He wants to change America. We elected a president that doesn’t believe in the Constitution. He undermines it. We elected a president that is weakening America on the global stage. We elected a president that doesn’t believe in the free enterprise system.”
- Rubio apparently liked this line so much that he used a version of it again in the same debate: “in 2008, we elected as president someone who wasn’t interested in fixing America. We elected someone as president who wants to change America, who wants to make it more like the rest of the world. And so he undermines the Constitution, and he undermines free enterprise by expanding government, and he betrays our allies and cuts deals with our enemies and guts our military.”
- Rubio used a version of this line again just two weeks later in the January 28 debate: “we usually elect presidents in America that want to change the things that are wrong in America. Barack Obama wants to change America. Barack Obama wants America to be 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.”
Using canned lines isn’t a novel technique for Rubio, as CNN shows in a mashup of Rubio speeches that shows him delivering the same lines about “living paycheck to paycheck,” how he hated the nickname “Marco Polo,” and that Hillary Clinton is “disqualified from being President of the United States,” among other things, in multiple different speeches.
In fairness, however, Rubio does appear to have changed his tune on President Obama. In 2012, 2014, and again in 2015, Rubio said that Obama had no idea what he was doing, Buzzfeed reported.