After taking on Donald Trump by reading his tweets in public — and then immediately regretting it — Florida Senator Marco Rubio took a more statesmanlike approach in denouncing the excesses of the Trump campaign on Friday, after protests forced Trump to cancel a Chicago rally. Unfortunately, his comments are unlikely to stave off his inevitable departure from the race following tomorrow’s primaries, which he is likely to lose.
Rubio took particular issue with Trump’s use of anger to manipulate his supporters, and Trump’s supporters use of their anger as a justification for violence. “Well, there are other people that are angry too, and if they speak out and say whatever they want the result is that it all breaks down,” he said. “It’s called chaos. It’s called anarchy. And that’s what we’re careening towards in our political process.”
His comments were among the most poignant critiques of the Republican frontrunner since the Republican establishment began a last ditch effort to deprive Trump of the delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination and thus trigger a brokered convention. Rather than engaging in the usual talking points blaming Obama and the Democrats for Trump’s rise, Rubio gave his clearest and most succinct analysis of why Trump is surging in popularity among Republican voters. He warned that the country would be “ripped apart at the seams” if the polarization deepens.
“This is what a culture and a society looks like when everybody says whatever the heck they want,” he said, in a denunciation of Trump’s oft-repeated claim that he is simply reflecting the anger of ordinary Americans. “You can’t say whatever you want. It has real life consequences for people in this country and all over the world.”
At another rally on Monday, Rubio spotted a Bernie Sanders sign in the crowd and addressed it: “Don’t worry, you’re not going to get beat up at my rally.”
Now, if only someone could get that through to Trump.