LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire – Sen. Marco Rubio spun his repetitive debate performance as part of his strategy at a town hall Sunday morning, even as a "Marco Roboto" activist mocked him outside.
After heading into last night's debate a surging front-runner, the Florida senator stumbled when Gov. Chris Christie took him to task for repeating talking points verbatim. Rubio proved Christie's point for him by offering up a line about Obamacare three or four times, identical right down to the cadence. But Sunday morning, Rubio doubled down on his repetitive talking points, spinning it as purposeful in a feisty town hall.
“It's interesting that right now, after last night's debate, ‘Oh, you said the same things three or four times?’ I’m gonna say it again,” Rubio told a packed room full of voters at a coffee-and-muffins town hall at a local high school. “The reason why things are in trouble is because Barack Obama is the first president, at least in my lifetime, that wants to change the country, change the country, not fix it its problems.”
Rubio’s day began as an uphill battle. Outside the high school, staffers from a PAC targeting Republicans, American Bridge, dressed in cardboard box robot costumes mocking his debate performance. The town hall started 40 minutes late, prompting many to leave while he was still talking. Though pegged as a pancake breakfast, it offered only muffins and coffee. “We couldn’t figure out how to make pancakes for 800 people,” he said, apologizing.
The candidate energetically sought to get the conversation back on his own terms, appealing to his supporters without the risk of being called out by rivals, and working to regain the momentum some fear he lost in last night's debate.
In an interview earlier in the day, he’d pushed back against criticism that his debate performance was damaging and canned.
“I would pay them to keep running that clip. I believe it passionately. Obamacare was not an accident,” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “We raised more money in the first hour. I hope they keep running it. I’m going to keep saying it. When it comes to what he’s trying to do to America, it’s part of a plan. He is robbing what makes America special.”
An hour away in Salem, Gov. Jeb Bush got in a dig at Rubio during his own morning campaign event, where he was joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham.
"I learned that Marco has a good memory cause he kept saying the same thing over and over," Graham joked.
"I envy the people that have, you know, message discipline, to say the same thing over and over again. Sometimes it doesn't work out, but normally it does," Bush countered, a quiet reminder of his more organic style.