Chris Christie and Marco Rubio got into a contentious exchange early on during Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate over the latter’s readiness to handle the country’s top job, and political analysts watching were quick to crown Christie the winner.
Christie tore into Rubio after the Florida senator said he was proud of his accomplishments in Congress, listing protecting Floridians from eminent domain abuse and implementation of sanctions against terrorists among them.
Christie immediately went on the offensive, saying senators wake up with different sets of problems than governors: “You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable. You just haven’t,” Christie charged.
The New Jersey governor also hit Rubio for what he called “the drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and the memorized 20-second speech,” which he said “does not solve one problem.” (Check out Breitbart’s debate live wire for the complete exchange).
Analysts quickly took to social media to declare that Christie had crushed Rubio during the exchange. National Review’s Rich Lowry and the New York Times’ Nate Cohn summed up most commentators’ sentiments:
Rubio's worst moment in any of the debates
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) February 7, 2016
I *love* that Rubio responded to the critique of his 30 sec. speech with a 30 sec. speech
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) February 7, 2016
But a large field of political observers quickly backed them up:
This is already Rubio’s worst debate. Dang. #GOPDebate
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 7, 2016
The Washington Post’s Robert Costa:
Rubio is repeating his talking points…
— Robert Costa (@costareports) February 7, 2016
Rubio repeating himself. Talking points CD got stuck in his head.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) February 7, 2016
how many times in one debate can Rubio can go back to Obama wanting to change America?
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) February 7, 2016
The Los Angeles Times’ Robin Abcarian and Steven Zeitchik:
I think Marco Rubio's repetition is actually some sort of nervous tic. #GOPDebate
— Robin Abcarian (@AbcarianLAT) February 7, 2016
For the hottest candidate in the race Marc Rubio sure does sound angry and embittered #GOPDebate
— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikLAT) February 7, 2016
Marco is having a bad night. He is reinforcing the view of people who think he can't stray from his talking points.
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) February 7, 2016
Wait, Rubio, just gave this portion of the stump speech… did this thing just loop?
— Liz Mair (@LizMair) February 7, 2016
Christie is absolutely owning Rubio right now. Wow. #GOPDebate
— Nate Johnson (@nsj) February 7, 2016
The Guardian’s Sabrina Siddiqui:
Rubio just delivered the same response twice in a row, not the best way to push back against the notion that he's scripted.
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) February 7, 2016
The Daily Beast’s John Avlon:
Rattled Rubio's inability to pull out of the talking points was devastating – made Christie's point for him.
— John Avlon (@JohnAvlon) February 7, 2016
Tampa Bay Times’ Ron Brackett:
Marco Rubio desperately trying to turn this back against Obama, not him! #GOPDebate
— Ron Brackett (@rontimes) February 7, 2016
Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins:
Wow, Rubio is now delivering the same line for a third, and then fourth time. This is… bizarre.
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) February 7, 2016
NBC’s Chuck Todd:
Don't know if Christie was helped with Rubio take down, but clearly Rubio was hurt during that exchange.
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) February 7, 2016
NPR’s Jessica Taylor:
These Rubio answers — essentially his stump speech. Which Christie calls him out for. #nprdebate
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) February 7, 2016
Yahoo News’ Hunter Walker:
This is an awful, awful moment for Rubio.
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) February 7, 2016