Video: Did Rubio have another minor “malfunction” last night?

posted at 1:21 pm on February 9, 2016 by Allahpundit

We’ve got hours to kill before we get an exit poll out of New Hampshire and I don’t think Trump calling Cruz a “pussy” — sorry, Trump repeating a fan who called Cruz a “pussy” — is enough to keep us going. Besides, there’s no question mark hovering over Trump today: He’s going to win, and very probably will win handily. There’s not much of a question mark over Cruz either, as he’s likely to finish somewhere between third and fifth and won’t gain or lose much depending upon the actual order. The real mystery in New Hampshire has to do with Rubio and whether his “3-2-1” strategy is about to implode thanks to an instantly infamous gaffe at the last debate and strong finishes on the trail by Kasich and Bush. I’m not overstating it when I say that the nomination may hinge on how Rubio finishes tonight. If he’s a strong second, he’ll be a strong favorite in betting markets to win it all; if he finishes behind Kasich and (especially) Bush, there’ll be mass panic within the GOP establishment about how to stop Trump and Cruz over the next six weeks. If Rubio can’t pull out a win in South Carolina or Nevada after this, he’s likely done, and whether he can win there depends in part on whether he can surprise everyone tonight. Everything he says and does on the trail at this point is hugely consequential potentially, and not just for his own candidacy.

So here’s an awkward moment from a rally last night in New Hampshire, sufficiently so as to have been noticed by the New York Times:

[O]n Monday, Mr. Rubio, the Florida Republican, who has been under relentless criticism for uttering his talking points over and over in Saturday’s presidential debate, had another repetitious lapse…

“We are taking our message to families that are struggling to raise their children in the 21st century because, as you saw, Jeanette and I are raising our four children in the 21st century, and we know how hard it’s become to instill our values in our kids instead of the values they try to ram down our throats.

“In the 21st century, it’s becoming harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music, in popular culture.”

Watch the clip below and you’ll notice what the Times noticed, that Rubio seems to catch himself the second time he says “throats,” presumably suddenly aware that he’s repeating another “25-second speech.” I’ve seen a hundred different reactions to this clip on Twitter since last night and, coincidentally, they seem to track precisely with whether the person is pro-Rubio or anti-. If you’re a Marco critic, this is further proof that Christie’s right that the “Rubot” relies too heavily on rhetorical modules. If you’re a Marco fan, it’s merely a rhetorical device — he’s using anaphora, repeating part of a sentence to build drama. An example would be, “I believe in America because I believe in opportunity. I believe in America because I believe in equality.” That’s … not what Rubio’s doing, though. As Jonathan Chait explains, he’s not repeating part of the sentence, he’s repeating the entire sentiment, as if he said, “I believe in America because I believe in opportunity. I believe in America because I believe in opportunity.”

The mundane truth, I think, is that while this isn’t anaphora, it also isn’t really a “robo-Rubio” moment. The guy’s just tired. He’s been working like a dog on the trail all week, he lost his train of thought in the middle of his stump speech, and he repeated a line. It’s night and day compared to him repeating himself multiple times on Saturday night while Christie was mocking him for being repetitive. If you’re trying to assimilate this into some “robot” narrative about Rubio, the best you can do is say that Christie’s hit damaged Rubio enough that we’re now debating every little rhetorical lapse he has on the trail whereas three days ago no one would have batted an eye. That’s the real danger from the debate, that Rubio will now be held to a higher rhetorical standard than the rest of the field in everything he says.

Since the “narrative” tonight hinges, as I say, on Rubio’s performance, here’s something for the lovers and the haters to mull while New Hampshire votes. For the lovers, Byron York says Rubio did a terrific job in his encounters with individual voters yesterday of reassuring them about his debate glitch. I absolutely believe it. There’s not another candidate in the field, I’d bet, who comes off as more charming and approachable in friendly discussion than Marco Rubio:

“I went into the debate leaning towards Rubio, and honestly I came out of the debate feeling ummmm, I don’t know,” Margie told me.

Then she came to the rally and stayed afterward to meet Rubio. I noticed that they chatted with him for quite a while, and I approached them afterward. As it turned out, any apprehensive feelings from the debate were erased by face-to-face time with the candidate. “The Chris Christie exchange, that troubled me,” Margie said as we stood near where Rubio was still shaking hands and meeting voters, half an hour after ending his speech. “I was undecided until just now. But after this — look at him right now with all these people. He’s taking the time, the care. It makes a difference when you come and meet them and shake their hand. I mean, he shook my hand three times.”

The surest way to convince someone that you’re not a robot is to show warmth. Rubio’s vastly better at that than Trump or Cruz are.

As for the haters, here’s a surprising piece from McKay Coppins about Rubio allegedly having a reputation among his friends for outsized anxiety, and occasionally even panic, about minor setbacks, a trait that would be hugely damaging to him as a candidate for president if it could somehow be demonstrated to voters. The “malfunction” at the debate suggested panic under fire in his inability to venture off-script when Christie was daring him to do so, but it’ll take more than that for this to become a rap on Rubio without better evidence:

But to those who have known him longest, Rubio’s flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness — and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

This jittery restlessness has manifested itself throughout Rubio’s life, from high school football games in Miami to high-profile policy fights in Washington — and in some ways, it’s been the driving force in his rapid political rise…

“He just lets these little things get to him, and he worries too much,” a Miami Republican complained after spending close to an hour sitting next to Rubio on a flight as he fretted over a mildly critical process story about him in the National Journal. “I’m just like, ‘Marco, calm down.’”

I never, ever would have guessed that Rubio sweats setbacks. More than anyone else, he’s anointed by his fans as the chosen one; he was all of 39 years old when he knocked off a sitting governor in a landslide for a U.S. Senate seat. The impression I’ve always had of him is that he never doubts his ultimate victory because he’s able to talk his way out of anything, including the supposedly career-killing Gang of Eight disaster. He’d be in trouble if voters got a different impression of him, but like I say, how’s that going to happen barring him going into the fetal position during one of the remaining debates? If his team has projected an image of serene confidence as well as they have to this point, there’s no reason to think they’ll fail now.

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Comment pages: 1 2

If you’re trying to assimilate this into some “robot” narrative about Rubio, the best you can do is say that Christie’s hit damaged Rubio enough that we’re now debating every little rhetorical lapse he has on the trail whereas three days ago no one would have batted an eye.

Pretty much.

The_Jacobite on February 9, 2016 at 3:57 PM

Danger, Will Robinson, danger!

corona79 on February 9, 2016 at 4:01 PM

If you can’t handle somebody repeating “pussy”,well then you are one too!

redware on February 9, 2016 at 1:43 PM

We’ll all survive, somehow. But some of us are also wondering just how low civic discourse can go now. Euphemisms for female genitalia opens up so many possibilities.

The_Jacobite on February 9, 2016 at 4:02 PM

Rubio’s Westworld technicians on line 4. They say they only have 10 minutes of air left before the suffocate.

Valiant on February 9, 2016 at 4:09 PM


Valiant on February 9, 2016 at 4:09 PM

Can’t believe anyone would fall for the establishment/medias push for kasich/christie… Both are rhinos!!! Cruz isn’t trustworthy after what he did to carson. And Rubio seems to be only candidate who understands Obama knows exactly what he’s doing. Systematically undermining America.

soapyjeans on February 9, 2016 at 4:19 PM

You know… everybody else on the trail is tired, and most of them are a lot older than Rubio is. His tiredness is likely a factor, but he could recover from the narrative if he had enough humility and maturity to laugh at himself, shrug it off as a bad day, and move on. But he tried to spin it as intentionally drawing attention to Obama’s shortcomings, only to, in a few days, repeat the same thing.
He is clearly robotic and unprepared.

theblackcommenter on February 9, 2016 at 4:25 PM

✩ ✩ ✩ RUBIO ✩ ✩ ✩

✔︎ Anxiousness
✔︎ Panicy
✔︎ Sweaty
✔︎ Maxed-Out Credit Cards
✔︎ Coke Head

Magicjava on February 9, 2016 at 4:27 PM

Let’s nominate a choke artist!

We need someone who cracks under pressure.

Skipity on February 9, 2016 at 3:25 PM

Sounds great!


NWConservative on February 9, 2016 at 4:28 PM

The only reason Rubio could be tired considering he’s the youngest of the group, he must be stressing out more than the others, he must not be flexible enough to handle the pressure, he must be spending too much time memorizing speeches and responses to really feel secure about the issues.

In short… he’s not the right candidate for the job.

Ukiah on February 9, 2016 at 4:29 PM

Oh c’mon, this crap is the least of Rubio’s problems.

Meremortal on February 9, 2016 at 4:32 PM

Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness — and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.

English translation: Rubio is [was?] a coke head.

Magicjava on February 9, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Lol, except this:

Marco Rubio, with a curious late-night arrest in his background, was a “very extroverted homosexual” in high school and college:

An excerpt:

In 1989, a year before Rubio was arrested with his friend Angel Barrios and another unidentified male friend in Alice Wainwright Park in south Miami, ostensibly for drinking beer in a car after closing time in a park known as a pickup locale for gays, Rubio sang and danced in a South Miami High School troupe. The song and dance troupe was based on the Chippendales but with a very gay theme: half Chippendales and half Village People:

After flunking out of Tarkio College in Missouri, Rubio returned to Miami where he hung around with his old high school friend Barrios. Barrios started an on-line gay porn business called Flava Works, which is still in business today live streaming sexual acts between black and Latino men.

In order to prepare for the University of Florida, Rubio attended Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville. Republican sources have told WMR that Rubio, Barrios, and two other students shared a townhouse in Gainesville that was known locally as a “coke house,” where cocaine was readily available, as were almost non-stop parties in what amounted to an off-campus gay frat house…

anotherJoe on February 9, 2016 at 4:32 PM

please stop posting about rubio…..he will never ever get my vote……any voter who loves america will NEVER EVER vote for this putz

TRUMP 2016

Pragmatic on February 9, 2016 at 4:34 PM

It seemed like Rubio realized he was repeating himself this time. Maybe he’s getting Alzheimer’s or something.

cimbri on February 9, 2016 at 4:39 PM

The rubot comments have been some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever read on HA. Last night’s thread had me literally giggling and LOL almost every comment. Marcosoft v9, Axe and the Space Oddessy HAL takeoff – all funny as hell.

Who is John Galt on February 9, 2016 at 4:47 PM

Did Rubio have another minor “malfunction” last night?

…he needs to start checking his pants…for skid marks!

JugEarsButtHurt on February 9, 2016 at 4:48 PM

Since when do you guys believe a Mother Jones report?

kcewa on February 9, 2016 at 1:58 PM

Speaking for myself, it fits with my own observation that Rubio is high-strung and tries too hard. YMMV

RockyMtnGirl on February 9, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Yup, it rings true. Rubio seems to have an anxious Barney Fife vibe going on. Would help to explain the nervous, repetitive speech issues he’s been having.

whatcat on February 9, 2016 at 4:57 PM

Ooops. Clicked strikeout instead of quote in my last comment.

whatcat on February 9, 2016 at 4:58 PM

I like to come here because I actually can sort through my own thoughts by putting them out there, people shoot them down… I try to defend, it helps me figure out what is real and what is momentary.

But the insults, are not helpful. The deconstruction of my prejudices are actually helpful to me.

petunia on February 9, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Much the same reasons I comment here.

AesopFan on February 9, 2016 at 5:29 PM

As something of a worry wart myself on certain things, I can relate. However, it is not a good trait to have as a leader or commander. It is ok to have those problems as a subordinate (even a high level one), but the leader needs to be able to overcome bad news, and be tough. He needs to be able to take the responsibly of being “the guy” for better or worse. Sometimes that can be seen as being cold, or even being a “jerk” sometimes.

“I am a damned sight smarter man than Grant. I know more about military history, strategy, and grand tactics than he does. I know more about supply, administration, and everything else than he does. I’ll tell you where he beats me though and where he beats the world. He doesn’t give a damn about what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell.” Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on Gen. U.S. Grant

William Eaton on February 9, 2016 at 1:44 PM

Looks like a point in favor of Cruz.

AesopFan on February 9, 2016 at 5:30 PM

The Rino Kid is just working the bugs out. The Stepford Candidate is the latest prototype but still a beta version. He is making the establishment sweat and they’re crossing their fingers for a Jeb! miracle or Dry Throat is all they’ve got.

phadras on February 9, 2016 at 6:38 PM

✩ ✩ ✩ RUBIO ✩ ✩ ✩

✔︎ Anxiousness
✔︎ Panicy
✔︎ Sweaty
✔︎ Maxed-Out Credit Cards
✔︎ Coke Head

Magicjava on February 9, 2016 at 4:27 PM

✔︎ Foam Dancer

leftnomore on February 10, 2016 at 4:06 AM

The EstabiLane© donors must be getting car sick from swerving back and forth between Jeb! and Rubifoam after these debates and polls keep flipping around. How about neither?

leftnomore on February 10, 2016 at 4:09 AM

Rubio does indeed look like a Robot at time. What he should have said about BUBBLES, is that hey Gov, Speaking of bubbles, is there anyone on stage that actually looks like one?..Pause and after the boos/eyes, respond that during “Bridgegate”. Geraldo Rivera had a radio show in the morning talking about the the traffic jams reference the Washington Bridge. People were calling in for days complaining and I know he covers the tristate area with tens of thousands of listeners. The fact that Christie and his office did not know anything about this is pure crap. Talk about living in a BUBBLE. I am amazed no one to date has mentioned that simple truth. I personally was living in New York and was hearing Geraldo Rivera fielding all the grievances on air. There is no way in Hell that he did not know anything about.

whsiii on February 10, 2016 at 11:06 AM

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