Chris Christie launched his expected attack against Sen. Marco Rubio during the ABC News debate this evening, pointing out that the freshman senator does not have the experience necessary to be president.
Christie knocked Rubio off script when he tried to parry his attacks with talking points that he obviously prepared in advance.
The fight was set up by debate moderators, after Rubio was asked if he had enough experience to run for president, citing Christie’s attack.
Rubio responded that he hadn’t been in office as long as some in the Senate, but that was no reason to dismiss his candidacy.
“I will say, if politics becomes and the presidency becomes about electing people that have been in the Senate the longest, we should all rally around Joe Biden,” Rubio said. “He’s been around 1,000 years. I don’t think any of us believe Joe Biden should be President of the United States.”
Christie pointed out that as a governor, he had much better experience than Rubio, as he was helping people in his state while Senators focused on bills and speeches.
In response, Rubio pointed out that the New Jersey credit rating had been downgraded nine times under Christie and parried the experience argument by pointing out that Obama was an effective president — even though he lacked experience.
Christie looked at the cameras —“You see, everybody, I want the people at home to think about this,” he said. “That is what Washington D.C. does — the drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him,” Christie said, pointing out that problems weren’t fixed by fancy speeches.
Rubio responding by pointing out that Christie was forced to leave the campaign trail in New Hampshire to deal with a massive snow storm, even though he didn’t want to leave.
As Rubio continued, Christie interrupted.
“There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech,” he jeered.
Rubio continued his speech, staying on script about the future of the country and trying to stay optimistic.
Christie responded that Rubio should be “ashamed” for criticizing him for going back to direct snow clearing operations, while Rubio replied by bringing up Christie’s mop comment.
“It gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points,” Christie replied.
“It’s just your record, not a talking point,” Rubio responded.
Rubio clung to the argument he was making about Obama’s experience, repeating himself four different times, using the same scripted line. That video was quickly clipped by a rival campaign and shared with reporters — particularly after ABC’s Jonathan Karl pointed it out during a halftime commentary segment.
Christie didn’t let Rubio go either, criticizing him for abandoning his Gang of Eight immigration bill and pretending he wasn’t involved with it.
“He acted as if he was somehow disembodied from the bill. It was his bill. He said this idea didn’t work. It was his idea,” Christie said. “See, when you are a governor, you have to take responsibility for these things. You can’t just act as if it happened out of nowhere. We have take responsibility as executives.”
Christie also hit Rubio for failing to vote for a Hezbollah sanctions bill he citied on his accomplishment list.
“When you talk about the Hezbollah sanctions act that you list as one of your accomplishments,” he said. “You weren’t even there to vote for it. That’s not leadership — that’s truancy.”