New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went after Marco Rubio at Saturday night’s Republican debate, arguing the Florida senator lacks the experience to hold the nation’s highest office.
The exchange started when ABC moderator David Muir asked Rubio to name his accomplishments as a U.S. senator.
“What are your accomplishments in the Senate that demonstrate you are ready to be president of the United States?” Muir asked.
“Well, let me say, from protecting the people of Florida from eminent domain abuse, to bringing accountability to the V.A., to the Girls Count Act, to sanctioning groups, I’m proud of my service in the United States Senate and before that, in the Florida legislature,” Rubio responded.
He added, “I will say, if politics becomes and the presidency becomes about electing people who have been Congress or in the Senate the longest, we should all rally around Joe Biden. He’s been around 1,000 years. He’s passed hundreds of bills and I don’t think any of us believe Joe Biden should be president of the United States.”
Muir then bought Christie into the conversation who drew distinctions between his service as a governor versus Rubio’s experience in Congress.
“Every morning when a United States senator wakes up, they think about what kind of speech can I give or what kind of bill can I drop? Every morning, when I wake up, I think about what kind of problem do I need to solve for the people who actually elected me?” Christie said.
“It’s a different experience, it’s a much different experience. And the fact is, Marco, you shouldn’t compare yourself to Joe Biden and you shouldn’t say that that’s what we’re doing. Here is exactly what we’re doing,” he continued. “You have not be involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable. You just simply haven’t.”
“And the fact is — the fact when you talk about the Hezbollah Sanctions Act that you list as one of your accomplishments you just did, you weren’t even there to vote for it,” Christie concluded. “That’s not leadership, that’s truancy.”
Rubio responded by going after Christie’s record.
“Well, I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they’ve been downgraded nine times in their credit rating,” he said. “This country already has a debt problem, we don’t need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of his state.”
“But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He is trying to change this country,” Rubio added. “He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don’t want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America. And when I’m elected president, this will become once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.”
Christie fired back, arguing Rubio’s answer resembled that of a D.C. politician.
“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,” he said. “See Marco — Marco, the thing is this. When you’re president of the United States, when you’re a 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. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I’ve done.”
Rubio quipped, “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. And then you stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back to campaign. Those are the facts.”
The Florida senator then again added, “Here’s the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
Christie interjected, “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”
Rubio argued that it was an “important point” and “the reason why this campaign is so important.”
Christie hit back hard.
“You know what the shame is — you know what the shame is, Marco? The shame is that you would actually criticize somebody for showing up to work, plowing the streets, getting the trains running back on time when you’ve never been responsible for that in your entire life,” he said.
“Chris, you didn’t want to go back. You didn’t want to go back,” Rubio interjected.
“Oh, so — wait a second. Is that one of the skills you get as a United States senator ESP also?” Christie sarcastically asked.
“Chris, everybody — you said you weren’t going to go back,” Rubio pressed. “He told everyone he wasn’t going to go back. They had to shame him into going back. And when he decided to go back, he criticized the young lady, saying, ‘What am I supposed to do, go back with a mop and clean up the flooding?’”
“It gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points,” Christie commented.
“It’s your record, it’s not a talking point,” Rubio said to end the exchange.
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