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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

By Steve Holland, Emily Stephenson and James Oliphant

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – Republican White House contender Marco Rubio struggled at a debate on Saturday at the worst possible time, potentially confounding his bid to emerge as Donald Trump’s chief rival in New Hampshire and giving hope to three rivals desperate for a strong showing.

Under assault from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over his level of experience as a first-term U.S. senator from Florida, Rubio retreated time and again to canned statements from his stump speech and looked uncomfortably rattled for the first time after seamless performances at seven prior debates.

“Marco, the thing is this,” Christie said during one heated exchange early in the night, “when you’re president of the United States, when you’re a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person.”

While Rubio recovered later in the debate, the timing of his performance was terrible, coming three days before New Hampshire Republicans register their choices on Tuesday in the nation’s second nominating contest. The debate at St. Anselm College was the last face-off of the candidates before the vote.

Rubio’s tough moments may breathe new life into the campaigns of Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich, three experienced politicians who, like Rubio, represent establishment Republicans.

All three have suffered from the dominance of front-runner Trump in the Republican race. They are badly in need of a breakout moment to change the trajectory of the battle in New Hampshire, where the polls show Trump in the lead, Rubio in second and Texas Senator Ted Cruz in third place.

Trump did not have his best debate. He looked flustered in a fight with Bush over the use of eminent domain in advancing the interests of public use projects and private industry.

But he seemed to do well enough to possibly win on Tuesday in what would represent his first victory of the 2016 race, erasing the pain from a loss in the Iowa caucus last week, where he finished second to Cruz and just ahead of the surging Rubio.

A victory in New Hampshire could put Trump on track for more wins in South Carolina on Feb. 20 and beyond on the way to the Nov. 8 election.


For the second debate in a row, Bush looked polished and sounded like the candidate many establishment Republicans had pinned their hopes on. His problem is it may be too late.

Kasich, likely to end his candidacy if he does not do well on Tuesday, delivered a positive message that could appeal to New Hampshire Republican voters, who famously make up their minds late and never seem in the mood to follow the lead of the Iowa caucuses, won by Cruz.

The trouble for Rubio began soon after the debate started when the ABC News moderators asked Christie about Rubio’s experience in the U.S. Senate, and Christie pressed his case.

Rubio critics have made much of the fact that his experience is akin to that of much-derided Democratic President Barack Obama, elected in 2008 when a first-term senator.

Rubio’s defense was that his and Obama’s world views are different, not that Obama has simply led the country down the path it is on because of inexperience.

“Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing,” Rubio said.

When Rubio repeated the same line again, Christie sought to reinforce the charge that Rubio is so inexperienced that he relies on well-worn talking points and cannot think on his feet.

“There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody,” Christie said.

Rubio repeated the line enough that someone created a Twitter profile called @RubioGlitch that repeated his line about Obama.


Bush attacked Trump for using eminent domain, which allows governments to seize private lands for projects for the public good, to help him build casino complexes in Atlantic City. Eminent domain is a frequent target of criticism from conservative and anti-government groups.

“What Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong,” he said.

Trump said eminent domain was “a good thing” and was necessary to building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. “Certainly, it’s a necessity for our country,” he said.

“He wants to be a tough guy, and it doesn’t work very well,” Trump said of Bush, telling the son and brother of former presidents to be quiet.

When the crowd booed, Trump said, “that’s all his donors and special interests out there.”

Trump, known for his tough stances with calls to ban Muslims from visiting the United States and deport immigrants without the proper documents, also called for a more empathetic view of the Republican call to repeal Obamacare insurance coverage for Americans.

“There will be a certain number of people who will be on the street dying, and as a Republican I don’t want that to happen,” he said.

Trump captured the biggest share of the conversation on Twitter during the debate, winning 33 percent of the conversation followed by Rubio at 20 percent and Cruz at 15 percent.

(Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson and Alana Wise in Washington; Writing by Steve Holland and John Whitesides; Editing by Mary Milliken, Paul Simao and Robert Birsel)

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump (R) and former Governor Jeb Bush (L) debate each other as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (C) stands between the two men as journalists watch the debate on monitors in the media filing center during the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by ABC News at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire February 6, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

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49 responses to “Rubio Falters In Presidential Debate, Offering Hope To Rivals”

  1. Paragryne says:

    Empty suits fold easily.

  2. Stuart says:

    ” . . . doesn’t solve one problem for one person.”

    So what? Republicans aren’t in the business of solving problems.

  3. angryspittle says:

    As Robot Rubio exited the stage one could detect sparks emanating from under the back of his jacket as he short circuited……heh, heh, heh……

  4. oldlion says:

    This is the only time I can think of that Christie did anything worhwhile. Exposing the weak, pathetic Rubio was classic Jersey boy kicking ass. That is the only thing El Gordo is good for.

  5. FireBaron says:

    Somehow, THE DONALD claiming he would bring back waterboarding and other examples of enhanced interrogation doesn’t exactly fill me with hope.

  6. stcroixcarp says:

    I didn’t watch the debate. I have heard enough. There has to be a better way to choose a presidential candidate.

  7. A reliance on robotic responses sooner or later will catch up with you. Being exposed to a rigid ideology like Conservatism for a year or more makes one become a mere automaton, with a stiff mind characterized by fuzzy thoughts and vacant and/or goofy facial expressions(sometimes maniacal as well).
    The latter qualities are a natural attractant for the “flies” of extremism.

    • itsfun says:

      Can’t make those mistakes with a teleprompter.

      • RED says:

        Hehe, didn’t you make the teleprompter comment already? SO what is this, two, three times? You kinda just proved his point, moron!

      • latebloomingrandma says:

        Debates aren’t supposed to be prepared speeches. Debates expose the depth of knowledge a candidate has on a variety of issues, how one thinks on his feet, and the temperament of the candidate.

      • As madam “latebloomin…” appropriately pointed out, the debate is supposed to show the depth of one’s knowledge.
        How dynamic one’s thought processes are when the “terrain” changes shows whether the GOP is capable of independent thought and flexibility of views.
        So far, the entire horde of debaters representing the Unhinged Right have failed miserably, despite an occasional glimmer of insight.

        • itsfun says:

          I agree, was just saying Rubio should have done what Obama did in the debates and use a teleprompter. So if a Republican is not capable of independent thought and flexibility of views, then either is Obama as he used a teleprompter.

          • BillP says:

            You do know that repeating a lie on this site doesn’t make it real. You offer no proof of your ridiculous claim. Go watch the 2008 and 2012 presidential debates. There are times that they don’t even stand at podium.

          • itsfun says:

            Not lying about anything Bill. I hope you know that accusing someone of lying doesn’t make it a lie.

          • BillP says:

            No but when you claimed multiple times that President Obama used a teleprompter in his debates and that isn’t true what would you call that? You know there are no teleprompters allowed in presidential debates, I don’t believe that McCain or Romney would have allowed it, get serious.

  8. yabbed says:

    Rubio hasn’t one single qualification to be President of the United States. None of the GOP candidates can handle the job of leading the nation and the world. What gives these silly guys the idea that they are fit to be President of the United States of America?

    • itsfun says:

      Just what qualifications did Obama have to President of the United States. He had part of a term as a US Senator, of which he spent half of that campaigning. He probably had the least qualifications of any President ever.

      • RED says:

        Ahh, the complete ignorance of the right wing morons, deeper than the deeper oceans is their stupidity. This particular stupidity is always on stand by. the deflection. And why not? When you’re a complete moron and so is anyone who follows your ignorant philosophy, what else can you do? It makes you wonder though, at least it makes people who are capable of thinking wonder, not the right wing morons, of course, if Barack Obama was so “feckless” and inept, how did he beat the day lights out of the ignorant Cons, TWICE!! Of course the morons will have excuse after excuse for that too, cause of course they’re all democracy and Constitution until they don’t like the results. So moron, go crawl back under your rock with the other insects and quit trying to pretend you have anything to add to human wisdom,uh cause YA DON’T!

        • itsfun says:

          So what qualifications did Obama have? You talk about deflecting , then that is exactly what you do. The only thing you have said in this post is anybody that agree with you is a moron. Maybe you should look in a mirror. What would you know about human wisdom when you can only call names and say nothing useful. Must be a weak mind trying to express itself.

          • RED says:

            Ahh, classic! Both sad and hilarious at the same time. Why in the world would I wanna participate in trying to answer your ignorant question? You’re an ignorant Con and that means you don’t live in reality, in an evidence based world. I also do not attempt to debate economics with with my Labrador Retriever. But unlike ignorant Cons my dog has a sense of decency and reality. I have no need to deflect, I’m perfectly capable of living in a real world and dealing in honesty, traits that are completely absent from the ignorant Con mind. You know they determined is actually a brain problem now that causes ignorant Cons to be so stupid. But that fact is that in a democracy way more people felt Obama was qualified than any of the slacked jaw idiots the Cons put forth,TWICE (In case you missed the first time, we know Cons are a bit slow)! So, of course feel free to proclaim how “weak” my mind is and all the ignorant Con sloganeering you choose, no problem, no big deal, because it’s clear that although ignorant Cons are a nuisance they grow fewer and more useless as each day passes.

          • itsfun says:

            Still waiting for a answer, all you seem to be capable of is calling names and giving no answers. Compared to Rubio, where was your man Obama more qualified?

    • plc97477 says:

      rubio doesn’t even do a good job of senator of florida. He has one of the worst records of not showing up for work.

    • mike says:

      Bernie has had decades in congress and nothing to show for it.
      Hillary tried reset button with Russia and that failed. She started the overthrow in Libya and did nothing to protect new govt., now ISIS has 5000 terrorist in Libya and country is in turmoil.

      • latebloomingrandma says:

        If you recall, the pressure was very heavy on both right and left to “do something” about Libya, as Ghadaffi was threatening a wholesale massacre of his own people. The intervention had allied support and was led by France. Remember?

        • mike says:

          Hillary was the architect of US involvement of the war. Take the time and read the emails between Hillary and Blumenthal that released around early Jan. 2016 showing the early involvement of ground troops, etc. She was happy to have it know as “Hillary’s War.” Hillary said”we came, we saw, he died,” clinton said to CBS reporter10-20-11
          Yes, France was involved but the heavy lifting was all USA from bombs, fuel tankers, and air power.
          And after the war Hillary walked away and new govt. failed.

      • oldlion says:

        Sort of like W’s lack of a plan after the invasion of Iraq, which is to say no plan at all. He then disbanded the Iraqi army which directly led to the present day Isis. I don’t believe one American life was lost in Libya.

        • mike says:

          4 Americans lost their lives when Obama and Hillary abandoned them in Benghazi..
          You keep wanting to forget that if Obama had fought to keep troops in Iraq, ISIS would never have reached strength it has now. He wanted out and made no effort to keep troops in Iraq which allowed al-Maliki to throw out Sunni and Kurds from govt., resulting in the rise of ISIS.

          • oldlion says:

            Again, rewriting history. Obama had no choice but to withdraw the troops because W made that agreement. You will believe what you want to believe and blame everything on Obama. If truth be told no troops should have ever been in Iraq. Bush blew up the middle east but it’s still Obama’s fault. The article was about Rubio but somehow you made it about the President.

          • mike says:

            A report in The New Yorker, 8-914, showed how President Obama failed to secure the status of forces agreement necessary to leave the troops in place after 2011. Dexter Filkins explained: President Obama, too, was ambivalent about retaining even a small force in Iraq. For several months, American officials told me, they were unable to answer basic questions in meetings with Iraqis – like how many troops they wanted to leave behind – because the administration had not decided. “We got no guidance from the White House,” Jeffrey told me. “We didn’t know where the president was. Maliki kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to sell.’ ” At one meeting, Maliki said that he was willing to sign an executive agreement granting the soldiers permission to stay, if he didn’t have to persuade the parliament to accept immunity. The Obama administration quickly rejected the idea. “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible,” Sami al-Askari, the Iraqi member of parliament, said. When Obama announced the withdrawal, he portrayed it as the culmination of his own strategy.

            Read more at:

            Read complete article.



            He had a choice to fight for a deal but not the stomach to to try.

          • oldlion says:

            And the American people wanted out as well. What would have been the point is staying? If you say that it lead to the formation of Isis, that was already done. Getting out was the right move. Perpetual was is not the answer. As for Benghazi, what about the 13 embassy attacks under Bush?

          • mike says:

            A true leader would do what was necessary. He wanted out! All politics!
            Tell that to the hundreds of thousands murdered and millions forced to become refugees because of the JV team. ISIS was a nothing group until Obama pulled troops out.
            Embassy comment. Bush, one American killed, Obama, 5 American killed from 7 attacks, Clinton, 224 killed in 2 embassy and 12 Americans killed.
            So get off that crap!

          • oldlion says:

            Beirut Embassy bombing-63 dead including 17 Americans. Beirut Marine barracks bombing- 242 Marines, 58 French troops. Iraq and Afghanistan wars- 8330 dead. That’s a total of 8663 dead. I guess that’s not enough for you, just keep throwing meat into the grinder. Get off that crap!

          • mike says:

            Now you are mixing apples and oranges. You brought up the attacks on embassies not me I just showed you Obama lost more precious Americans dead that Bush.
            As to trying to play war Dead, your number is nothing in comparison to the 50,000 killed under Johnson/ Kennedy.

  9. itsfun says:

    Maybe he should have used a teleprompter.

  10. A reference was made that a teleprompter may have saved Rubio’s backside. (Lord knows a former neurosurgeon could have used such a gizmo every moment he stepped in front of a camera—but that’s ancient history now).

    In the meantime, the denizens of “The Far Side of Lunacy(aka Conservative Party)” continue to flail, flounder, snarl, and foam at the mouth, uttering empty platitudes and nonsensical ideas—all in an incoherent and blustery ‘stream of consciousness’.

    And in the midst of all that gibberish, many people in NH, and elsewhere, still can’t make up their minds???

    God help us!!

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