"Donald Trump has never punched anyone in the face": Marco Rubio's new tough guy approach is cute but falls flat

Rubio is finding out too late that GOP voters respond better to bravado than establishment policy promises

Published February 26, 2016 6:00PM (EST)

Jacked up from a successful showing at Thursday night's GOP debate, Marco Rubio took to network morning shows to maintain his Trump-bashing Marco-mentum.

On NBC's "Today" show, Rubio repeatedly called Trump a "con artist," saying, "He has spent a career sticking it to working Americans."

Rubio denied the suggestion that his strategy was to hold off on attacking Trump until this pre-Super Tuesday debate. "We are not gonna turn over the conservative movement to a con artist, who is telling people one thing but has spent 40 years sticking it to working Americans," he replied, still unable to venture off-script.

Rubio gave minimally altered versions of the exact same "con artist" + "conservative movement" + "sticking it to working Americans" + "MarcoRubio.com" canned answer to every question posed.

During "CBS This Morning" — asked whether someone had "hit the panic button" last night — Rubio said (I kid you not):

"I don't know what you're talking about; I can just tell you that a con artist is about to take over the Republican party and the conservative movement ... Donald Trump has portrayed himself now, consistently, as fighting for the working people, and he has a record of sticking it to working people for 35 years."

After his morning show circuit, Rubio held a rally in Dallas that, according to Politico, showed Marcobot's sentient side.

"Last night in the debate during one of the breaks, two of the breaks, he went backstage and he was having a meltdown," Rubio said. "First he had one of those makeup things applying around his mustache because he had one of those sweat mustaches. Then, then he asked for a full-length mirror, I don’t know why because the podium goes up to here (gestures to stomach). I don’t know why maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet."

"It's time. The charade is up … a tough guy? This guy inherited $200 million. He's never faced any struggle," Rubio continued. "Donald Trump has never punched anyone in the face. Donald Trump was the first guy that begged for secret service protection. First guy."

In theory, Rubio's sudden switch-flip to schoolyard bully-mode should be the most effective -- and timely -- way to curb Trump's momentum. In practice, however, the suddenness plays itself out as insincere. Marco has, once again, tied himself to the tracks with his own stubborn adherence to his talking points. And, come Tuesday, there's no stopping this Trump train.

Here's Marcobot on "Today":

And again on "CBS This Morning":


By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

MORE FROM Brendan Gauthier

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Cbs This Morning Donald Trump Marco Rubio Today Show