On Christmas Eve, many Americans visited with friends and family for holiday gatherings, but Marco Rubio boasted to a South Carolina audience over the weekend that he took time on Dec. 24 to do something a little different: "I went to go purchase a handgun on the 24, on Christmas Eve," the senator said.
And why, pray tell, did Rubio do this? As it turns out, he wasn't looking for a last-minute gift.
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in an interview aired Sunday that he purchased a gun on Christmas Eve to defend his family if ISIS -- or any other attackers -- were to visit his home. Rubio told CBS "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson that he purchased the firearm on Christmas Eve because he's not in town often, but was home that day.
According to the transcript, the Florida senator said, "[I]f ISIS were to visit us or our communities at any moment, the last line of defense between ISIS and my family is the ability that I have to protect my family from them."
The notion of ISIS terrorists literally going door to door, paying Americans "visits," is apparently on Rubio's mind. The Guardian's Sabrina Siddiqui reported that the senator also told an Iowa audience over the weekend, "[I]f God forbid ISIS pays a visit to you, to our community, the last thing standing between them and our families may be the ability to protect ourselves with our guns."
Not to put too fine a point on this, but if Rubio is so terrified of ISIS militants literally showing up at his door that he needs to go gun shopping on Christmas Eve -- to add to the guns he already owns -- perhaps he's a little too scared to be president of the United States?
Of course, in reality, it's quite likely that Rubio is just toying with new, cynical talking points, pandering to right-wing activists with the kind of fear-mongering that the Floridian used to reject. For his own sake, we can hope Rubio isn't really living in a constant state of terror, so much as he's using the ISIS threat as a convenient partisan tool.
Indeed, it's not just guns.
Rubio, as many now know, co-authored the immigration reform bill championed by the White House -- a bill many Republicans have condemned as "amnesty" because it includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Rubio later betrayed his allies, abandoning the bill he helped write, and he's struggled to defend his 180-degree reversal.
Team Rubio recently came up with a new line: the senator flip-flopped because of ISIS. Consider the line Rubio used in last week's debate, which is word-for-word identical to the line he's been using on the campaign trail.
"The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally."
Ted Cruz's response didn't get much attention, but it matters: "[R]adical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago; 24 months ago, we had Al Qaida. We had Boko Haram. We had Hamas. We had Hezbollah."
It's a pretty important flaw in Rubio's carelessly thrown-together talking point. He wasn't concerned with al Qaeda committing acts of terror on U.S. soil in 2013, but he's concerned about ISIS in 2016? That's a line voters are supposed to take seriously?
It's about as compelling as the idea that Rubio felt the need to go gun shopping on Christmas Eve because he's afraid ISIS might invade Miami and "visit" his home.