A newly pugilistic Marco Rubio showed Americans his skill with slings and arrows at Thursday night’s GOP debate in Houston, calling Donald Trump a “con artist” and giving Trump a taste of his own vicious medicine by repeatedly interrupting and ridiculing him.
But, as Jeremy Peters of The New York Times wrote Friday, Rubio may have just been warming up:
He mocked Mr. Trump’s misspellings on Twitter. He made fun of his flop sweat. He even said Mr. Trump might have wet his pants.
“He called me Mr. Meltdown,” Mr. Rubio told a crowd in Dallas on Friday morning. “Let me tell you something,” he added, “he went backstage, he was having a meltdown.” The crowd roared in excitement.
Mr. Rubio described how during a commercial break, Mr. Trump kept applying makeup.
“First, he had this little makeup thing applying, like makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches.
Then, Mr. Rubio said, he asked for a full-length mirror. “I don’t know why,” he said, winding up to his punch line: “Maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.”
Mr. Rubio also mischievously scrolled through some of Mr. Trump’s recent Twitter posts — “Let’s read some; you’ll have fun,” he said with a sly smile — then he proceeded to tick through how Mr. Trump had misspelled words like “lightweight” and “choker.”
“Leightweight chocker Marco Rubio looks like a little boy on stage,” Mr. Rubio said, reading from one of the Twitter messages that Mr. Trump sent out after the debate. “He meant to say lightweight, but he spelled it L-E-I-G-H-T, so he got that wrong.”
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“I only reach two conclusions,” said Mr. Rubio, 44, going in for the kill. “No. 1, that’s how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business where he went. Or No. 2, just like Trump Tower, he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets.”
In a move that may remind Floridians of ageist attacks on the late Gov. Lawton Chiles by 1990 primary opponent Bill Nelson and later Republican Jeb Bush four years later, Rubio also played the “old” card on Trump:
And if Mr. Trump wanted to make age an issue in the campaign, Mr. Rubio signaled he was happy to play along.
“I wouldn’t even be the youngest president. But he would be the oldest president ever elected. And it’s like an eight-year term,” [said Rubio].
Mr. Trump, who later corrected the spelling in the Twitter post, is 69.