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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio, the Insult Comic Dog, dials it back: 'It was fun while it lasted'

Water boys

Water boys



Recalling the past six days for Marco Rubio:

On Wednesday, the Florida senator said he would not attack Donald Trump unprovoked, keeping with a cautious strategy that let Jeb Bush take the brutalism of Trumpism.

On Thursday, unprovoked, Rubio at the debate began a series of savage attacks on Trump.

On Friday Rubio had morphed into the man who leads the Republican field and is likely to have a blockbuster Super Tuesday. Rubio joked that Trump might have wet his pants. He read Trump’s cartoonish tweets, mocking misspelled words. He called Trump a “con man.”

On Saturday, Rubio made fun of Trump’s hair, his “spray tan," his appearance. “Donald Trump likes to sue people. He should sue whoever did that to his face.”

On Sunday, at Roanoke College:

“Donald is not going to make America great. He’s going to make America orange."

“He’s always calling me ‘little Marco.' I’ll admit he’s taller than me. He’s like 6'2", which is why I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who’s 5’2’’. Have you seen his hands? And you know what they say about men with small hands?”

(crowd sickering at innuendo)

"You can’t trust ‘em,” Rubio answered.

“You can’t trust ‘em. All right. You can’t trust ‘em.”

What has happened to nice guy Marco Rubio? The candidate and his consultants reasoned they need to take on a bully by being a bully. Fair enough but, again, what happened to nice guy Marco Rubio?

This is not the “New American Century” Reaganism of Rubio.

The former Rubio appeared appeared to return Monday night in Jenks, Okla. When an audience member shouted about Trump’s small, er, hands, Rubio shut it down. “We’re not talking about that today. It was fun while it lasted.”

The Washington Post noted that Rubio was “fighting a raspy voice.”

No wonder.

Monday on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked Rubio if he felt comfortable with the tone “because it is a departure. Do you say to your kids you are just fighting back to a bully? Is that what you say?”

“What I say is we try to make this campaign about issues. I continue to make it about issues. I talk about issues all the time. Unfortunately no one ever covers issues these days very much,” Rubio said blaming the media. “That's why Donald has gotten 10 times as much coverage as anybody else because he is always insulting people and saying outrageous things. It's funny the media spends a lot of time covering those insults he has been laying out throughout the last year. I am going to continue to talk about my ideas. My website is full of ideas. I go to the debates and discuss specific ideas. Donald Trump does not have a specific idea about any policy before America and yet somehow he has convinced a significant percentage of Republicans that he should be the next president. We are not going to let that happen. There is no way we are going to let a con artist get control of the Republican Party or the conservative movement.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 11:25am]


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