To further the argument that Marco Rubio is a mindless robot who repeats the same talking points, Rubio-haters have been mocking him for being repetitive, mocking him for being repetitive, mocking him for being repetitive…
Governor Chris Christie precipitated the attack that led to the robot meme at last weekend’s New Hampshire debate against Rubio by accusing Rubio of not being experienced enough to be president. After establishing that point, Christie mentioned that he was qualified because he was a governor. Then he mentioned that he was qualified because he was a governor, mentioned that he was qualified because he was a governor, mentioned that he was qualified because he was a governor…
(Reminds me of how Rick Perry-bashers responded to his failure to remember the three agencies he wanted to close by failing to remember that they had told their “three things” joke one billion times and that it wasn’t funny anymore.)
Rubio’s much-criticized response was far less repetitive than Christie’s brag, which we’ve heard a million times. And in fact Rubio was precisely answering Christie’s charge, despite Christie’s being too stubborn to comprehend him.
Witness the following condensed, annotated transcript of the exchange:
DAVID MUIR: Governor Christie warn[ed] voters here in New Hampshire against voting for another first-term senator as America did with Barack Obama in 2008. Arguing that you are, quote, “not ready to be president of the United States.”
RUBIO: [L]et’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. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country…
In other words, it’s not the case that first-term senators categorically don’t have enough experience to govern. Obama got a lot of destructive things done. As another talented first-term senator, I, too, am capable of governing, except that when I lead, I’ll accomplish things that are good for the country.
MUIR: Governor Christie, you said fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me when it comes to electing a first-term senator. You heard Senator Rubio make the case that he does have the experience. Your response?
CHRISTIE: Every morning, when I wake up, I think about what kind of problem do I need to solve… [W]hat we need to have in this country is not to make the same mistake we made eight years ago… [Rubio] simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States… Do not make the same mistake again…
Rubio’s response to Christie, who refused to acknowledge the point Rubio had made, and instead blathered about his gubernatorial experience:
RUBIO: I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they’ve been downgraded nine times in their credit rating. This country already has a debt problem, we don’t need to add to it…
But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world… [W]hen I’m elected president, this will become once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.
Here Rubio introduces the converse of Christie’s charge that only governors are qualified to be president—by arguing that some governors aren’t qualified to be president. He then reiterates the point Christie failed to understand twice: Both Obama and I are capable of accomplishing things, except Obama accomplished things that were destructive—just as you accomplished things that were destructive for New Jersey. When I’m president, I’ll be capable of accomplishing things, despite being a first-term senator, but I’ll accomplish things that are beneficial for the country.
Refusing to get the point a third time, Christie sneered:
CHRISTIE: 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… None of [what I’ve had to do] happens on the floor of the United States Senate… [I]t does not prepare you for president of the United States.
To paraphrase: I’m still insisting that senators can’t accomplish things as president, as evidenced by Obama’s failure.
RUBIO: Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing… I think this is an important point. We have to understand what we’re going through here…
All this damage that he’s done to America is deliberate. This is a president that’s trying to redefine this country. That’s why this election is truly a referendum on our identity as a nation, as a people.
Paraphrasing Rubio: You can’t repeat yourself and say governors are, as a class, uniquely qualified to be president and senators are not. Obama is a prime example of a first-term senator who got things—destructive things—done, and as a first-term senator I will accomplish positive things. Are you ever going to get my point?
Why was Christie so insistent in attacking a fellow candidate when he had no chance of winning the nomination himself? Based on his sixth-place showing in the state he was positioning himself to do well in via his attack, I’m guessing it’s because he knew he was about to quit and wanted to burnish his legacy by attacking a candidate about whom Americans are actually enthusiastic.