If debates can change the course of an election, we’ll learn it soon, because Marco Rubio utterly trounced Donald Trump last night in the most commanding performance we’ve seen in the 10 GOP scuffles thus far.
I use the word “trounced” advisedly. After an hour in which Rubio turned Trump’s own game on him with quick jabs and mocking counterjabs, and Ted Cruz joined in a surprising tag-team effort with his Florida rival, Trump was actually complaining he was getting too many questions and too much time to speak.
A frustrated Trump tried to flummox Rubio by calling him a “choke artist” and referencing the senator’s bad New Hampshire confrontation with Chris Christie, but the opposite was the case. Rubio came loaded for bear. He knows that his back is against the wall, that Trump leads in almost all of the 12 states that will vote on Tuesday and that he has to alter the trajectory of the race in his favor.
“If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Tower, he’d be using illegal immigrants to do it,” Rubio said.
“Make them in America,” he said to Trump about the ties and suits that bear his brand name, which are made in China.
“You have a fake university,” he said about Trump University.
“If he hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now?” Rubio said. “Selling watches in Manhattan.”
Rubio said his mother was a maid in a hotel but if she’d sought a job in one of Trump’s Miami hotels, her place would have been taken by an illegal immigrant.
And that was just the first 10 minutes.