Rubio strikes back

by Heather Robinson

In the aftermath of the second Republican debate last Wednesday, Carly Fiorina and and Ben Carson have gained ground in the polls, while Donald Trump has fallen a bit. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have also gained ground, though less dramatically. But judging from his attacks in recent days, the challengers Trump seems to fear most are Fiorina – and Rubio.

If the worst thing Trump can say about Rubio is he is young and sweats (and drinks a lot of water), that’s an indicator that the young (he’s 44), eloquent Senator is brilliant, up to speed, and a real contender.

Rubio’s intellect shone in the last debate, in which he pointed out that the next President must be ready to confront foreign policy challenges and national security threats on Day One in office, and displayed his own foreign policy chops.

Trump derided Rubio on Wednesday during an appearance in South Carolina, calling him a “lightweight” and referencing the Florida senator’s perspiration during the second GOP debate last week.

A few thoughts on this.

It’s worth noting that the word Trump chose for Rubio – “lightweight” – more accurately describes Trump when it comes to lacking a detailed knowledge about foreign policy issues. Yet again, we see Trump’s tendency to attack rivals’ perceived vulnerabilities – including crude insults on their physicality. Again and again, Trump exhibit’s a bully’s tendency to hit hard – and low – in a way designed to undermine others’ confidence and reduce their ability to think on their feet. Unfortunately, these types of low blows sometimes work in life for bullies, though usually only temporarily and not against genuinely tough individuals like Fiorina and Rubio are emerging to be. It’s also probably designed to appeal to the masses. Trump is a gifted entertainer who knows how to amuse the crowd, sometimes at the expense of others. In other words, he’s really good at making fun of people. But that is no reflection of true toughness or strength.

Rubio responded yesterday: “[Trump] had a really bad debate performance last week … He’s not well informed on the issues. He really never talks about issues and can’t have more than a 10-second soundbite on any key issue. And I think he’s kind of been exposed a little bit over the last seven days, and he’s a very touchy and insecure guy and so that’s how he reacts, and people can see through it.”

Those of us who have had our eye on Rubio for months are pleased to see the broader viewing public get a glimpse his agile mind in action. Some may recall his eloquent and principled speech concerning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress in March in which he addressed many elements of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Rubio views himself as the candidate of the future. Donald Trump clearly views him as a threat.

I’m inclined to agree with both men.


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