Bootgate: Rivals dig at Marco Rubio’s masculinity

Only during an election cycle in which a billionaire who lives in a gold-plated Fifth Avenue apartment serves as the blue-collar candidate could it make any sense that a first-generation American who’s been in debt much of his adult life can be so easily depicted as an effete elitist for wearing a pair of $130 boots — shiny and fashion-forward as those boots may be.

Yet here we are. Roughly 48 hours after a photo of the high-heeled boots Marco Rubio wore in New Hampshire went viral, several Republican competitors are exploiting the opportunity to tease the young senator.

And with a barrage of subtle ripostes, Donald Trump and Chris Christie among others are doing something potentially more damaging: They’re questioning Marco’s Man Card.

“They’re clearly trying to effeminize Marco Rubio,” said Steve Schmidt, a GOP strategist who guided John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “Wearing black, high-heeled booties is not exactly a statement of masculinity. And this is not groundbreaking. The sartorial choices of candidates have long been used by their opponents to say something negative about a larger personality trait, sometimes to devastating effect.”