Days’ worth of campaign-trail feuding between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) exploded on the Republican debate stage Saturday night, as the two engaged in a heated exchange for several minutes near the debate’s start.
Christie and other GOP candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), have spent the last several days highlighting Rubio’s supposed inexperience as a first-term senator.
Christie attempted to hammer home many of those arguments Saturday night.
After Rubio was pressed to name his accomplishments in the US Senate, Christie pounced.
“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable. You just simply haven’t,” Christie told Rubio.
Christie added that one of the things Rubio had touted — legislation to to increase sanctions against the Hezbollah terrorist group — the senator missed the vote.
“That’s not leadership. That’s truancy,” Christie quipped.
“I like Marco Rubio. And he’s a smart person and a good guy. But he simply doesn’t have the experience to be president of the United States,” he added.
The two candidates then started exchanging barbs over each other’s records and political character.
“I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out,” Rubio shot back. “Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they have been downgraded nine times in their credit rating. This country already has a debt problem. We don’t need to add to it by electing someone who has experience … destroying the credit rating of his state.”
The debate moderator then tried to move on to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), but Christie demanded time to respond to Rubio’s attack. Christie started pointing directly at Rubio and accusing him of canned debate lines.
“You see everybody, I want the people at home to think about this. That’s what Washington, DC, 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 continued: “You see Marco, Marco, the thing is this: When you’re president of the United States, when you’re governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it, doesn’t solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow.”
Rubio was ready with another counter punch. He pointed out that Christie wasn’t initially planning to return home to New Jersey during a recent snowstorm.
“Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn’t even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back,” Rubio said, as some audience members booed.
As Rubio started to dismiss the idea that President Barack Obama’s problem is inexperience, Christie interrupted him again: “There it is. There it is: The memorized, 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”
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