With their campaigns hanging in the balance, the Republican governors running for president struck back in Saturday’s debate, the last before New Hampshire votes on Tuesday. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was their primary victim as he took the brunt of the punishment in last night’s debate.
As you will recall after his 3rd place finish in Iowa Rubio went into New Hampshire as the clear leader of the establishment candidates. But even though he should have known he was going to the target at last night’s debate he was crushed by the three governors who have been tightly packed with him behind Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz,
Rubio’s success spelled an imminent demise, and they moved aggressively from the beginning of the Manchester debate to undermine him. The key punisher was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the weakest of the governors at least in polls, who struck first, brutalizing Rubio on his preparedness for the White House, then later adding attacks on his views toward Muslims and, time and finished him off blasting him on his immigration position.
Rubio grew so rattled early on that four times he repeated the same line about President Obama knowing exactly what he was doing—in Rubio’s construction, weakening America by making it more like every other country. The line is his go to line that he uses often as an example that inexperience is not the problem that President Obama has it is the decisions that he makes.
But attacks from Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush exposed Rubio’s lack of experience and accomplishments as a first-term senator as a reason not pick him as their nominee the way the Democrats did in Obama in 2008.
The winners last night were Donald Trump who was strong on his positions, got in only one battle with Bush, who his base loves to see him swat around. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, had his best debate and will likely do better than expected Tuesday because he was the adult in the room.
The losers were Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who did not seem to tout his Iowa win or to do battle with Rubio too much. Bush and Christie were so focused on Rubio they likely won’t advance too much in the vote Tuesday night in New Hampshire.
However, the clear loser was Rubio who was exposed for his lack of accomplishment and his momentum looks to have been stalled. He had his worst debate at a time when he needed a great debate and we will see Tuesday if he will be punished for his performance.