Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump participate in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College, Feb. 6, 2016 in Manchester, N.H. 
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

Rubio follows Trump down an undignified road

If you’ve been to one of Marco Rubio’s campaign events over the last few months, congratulations, you’ve seen every Rubio campaign event. The Florida senator has a carefully scripted stump speech, which he repeats with extraordinary precision, complete with requisite pauses and facial expressions, which are delivered the exact same way every single time.
But not this morning. As the Washington Post reported, at a Dallas event, the Florida senator tried out some new material.
[Rubio] speculated, in front of 500-odd primary voters, that the Republican front-runner might have lost control of his bladder at Thursday night’s debate.
“He called me Mr. Meltdown,” said Rubio, deriding the botched spelling of Trump’s post-debate tweets. “Let me tell you, during one of the breaks – two of the breaks – he went backstage. He was having a meltdown. First he had this little makeup thing, applying makeup around his mustache, because he had one of those sweat mustaches. Then he asked for a full-length mirror. I don’t know why, because the podium goes up to here. Maybe he was making sure his pants weren’t wet. I don’t know.”
Yes, at a campaign rally this morning, Marco Rubio decided to tell a pee joke. Because nothing says “presidential” like joking about the possibility of a rival urinating on himself.
The Republican Party’s favored presidential candidate, the senator adored by the media and pundits, has apparently decided if he can’t beat Donald Trump, maybe it’s time for Marco Rubio to become Donald Trump – right down to jokes about his foe sweating.
This isn’t the first time. While Rubio tried sunny optimism for much of 2015, in 2016, down in the polls, the senator switched gears and started telling voters the United States is “in decline”; the American dream “is dying”; and, “I don’t recognize my own country.”
The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart wrote last month that “the junior senator from Florida sold his soul … for a shot at winning over the supporters of Donald Trump.” Whereas Rubio used to reject Trump’s approach, now the senator “piggybacks on it.”
But this month, Rubio isn’t just echoing dour assessments of the country, he’s begun abandoning dignity, too. As the race for the Republican nomination took shape, who was prepared to guess that Rubio would resort to urination jokes a few days before Super Tuesday?
Who knows, maybe this will work wonders. Perhaps there are GOP primary voters who weren’t sold on Rubio, but who will find his new cheap, buffoonish rhetoric charming. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.
But it’s worth appreciating the degree to which this reinforces Trump’s dominance. In less than a year, the Republican frontrunner has managed to persuade his national GOP rivals to adopt his issue positions, echo his rhetoric, and even abandon their own sense of class.
I don’t know if Trump will be the Republican nominee, but I do know that in many respects, he’s already won.