Marco Rubio appears to be trying to out-Trump Donald Trump. He tested out some nativist attacks on Trump last night and today he said that Trump wears too much makeup, is old, and may have peed in his pants.
The above video, from a rally today, is making the rounds. Rubio says that during the debate breaks, “Trump had this little makeup thing, applying makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches.” See, when men put on makeup, it’s emasculating, right? Right? And while Trump keeps saying Rubio sweats a lot (“he looked like he just came out of a swimming pool”), Rubio is all, no you sweat a lot. And then the zinger: “then he asked for a full-length mirror…maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.”
A lot of conservative backers of Rubio immediately cheered that he was taking the fight to Trump. I won’t pretend to know how any of this crap plays with GOP voters. But this kind of reminded me of when Scott Walker started talking about building a wall across the Canadian border. If you try to out-Trump Trump, a total buffoon…you risk looking like a buffoon! Is this really Rubio at his best? Obviously phony macho posturing and piss jokes? The theory, I guess, is that if you have to get in the mud with Trump to beat him in the mud. But Trump is a sui generis weirdo. He really is a childish clown! Rubio is a national politician behaving like a childish clown to get attention, because he’s losing. It’s embarrassing.
The result: a food fight. Trump, as you might expect, dishes right back (and the dude really does have some panache as a hammy insult comic). He said today that Rubio really does sweat an awful lot, he has big ears, he’s a baby and nasty a guy, he’s a “lightweight,” he’s a “nervous basket case,” he’s a “frightened little puppy.” And, Trump added, it was Rubio who was piling on the makeup — “putting it on with a trowel.”
And on it goes. Is this really a fight that Rubio can win? Is this a good look for Rubio? Again, I’m hesitant to try to divine the thoughts of GOP primary voters, but this just looks like desperation to me. (The best argument for Rubio’s strategy is that this is about knocking out Cruz: by putting himself at the center of a one-on-one fight with Trump, he can try to hog the airwaves and make this a two-man race. The other argument, maybe better actually, is that Rubio should be desperate.)
What is there left to say? Two leading contenders for the GOP nomination are arguing over who sweats more, and who wears more makeup. It’s almost like policy doesn’t matter, and Republican voters think pathetic, desperate performances of masculinity show strength. I don’t know.
The announcement of the Chris Christie endorsement makes Rubio’s efforts to call his opponent Mr. Pissy Pants look even weaker. When everyone else zigs, Trump zags: Rubio is trying to become like Trump just at the moment that Trump is going mainstream.
In his routine today, Rubio also made fun of Trump’s typos in tweets. Rubio says that the reason for the misspellings is that Trump “must have hired a foreign worker to do his tweets.” Charming. The awkward part is that Rubio says, “he spelled choker C-H-O-K-E-R, chalker.” But of course, choker is spelled C-H-O-K-E-R. (The New Republic points out that if you look at the original Trump tweet, Rubio reads it aloud saying “chalker” when the word is spelled correctly and “choker” when the typo, “chocker” appears — as if Rubio thinks that the correct spelling is chocker.) I don’t know or care whether Rubio can spell or not, but his nativist joke that immigrants can’t spell is disgusting and he should be ashamed of himself. Trump really has a way of bringing out the worst in people.