Did Marco Rubio Partially Flood His Presidential Chances In His State of the Union Rebuttal Speech?

It’s clear Florida Senator Marco Rubio has a thirst for a bigger career. And it’s too early to tell, but early Twitter reaction is focusing less on the content in Rubio’s State of the Union rebuttal speech than his apparent burning thirst — which required him to drink water on camera.

It was not subtle; it was a big gulp (with apologies to 7Eleven).

You’ll hear and read more about Rubio — Democrats will say he was awful and many Republicans will proclaim his rebuttal one of the finest speeches delivered by anyone in the United States or any other country. But here’s a quick collection of Twitter reaction:
Howard Fineman:

Groans at tv monitors in statuary hall when rubio reached for the water. Of such small moments are epochs made?

On ace political scientist Larry Sabato’s Twitter:

13m Patricia Zengerle ?@ReutersZengerle
Marco Rubio thirsts for change. Marco Rubio dryly noted the defects in Obama’s speech. Rubio: Obama’s speech was all wet. Care for more?

13m Larry Sabato ?@LarrySabato
I’m going to be kind and call The Big Gulp a humanizing moment. Mayor Bloomberg would try to ban it.

13m Larry Sabato ?@LarrySabato
At what phrase was Rubio required to drink?

16m Larry Sabato ?@LarrySabato
Maybe Poland bottled water sponsored this GOP response?

17m Patricia Zengerle ?@ReutersZengerle
If only Rubio had reached down and grabbed a Corona … or even an American beer.
Retweeted by Larry Sabato

17m Larry Sabato ?@LarrySabato
Uh-oh. Water gulp–really bad TV optics. SNL, Colbert, Stewart…here they come.

Columnist Dick Polman:

Dick Polman ?@DickPolman1
What was up with that water bottle? Maybe that was Rubio’s drinking game. One gulp for every 50 attacks on the role of government.

Look up “Marco Rubio” on Twitter and you get these (a cross section):

LisainDallas
When all the opposition can say is ‘you drank water’ –you really kicked their butts. Good job @marcorubio

10m Ivan Roberson ?@Ivanroberson
Marco Rubio Bombs in #SOTU Rebuttal/2016 Audition http://www.politicususa.com/marco-rubio-bombs-sotu-rebuttal2016-audition.html … via @politicususa
Retweeted by HOPE from nyc

On a positive note, at least Marco Rubio didn’t get hungry during his speech. #GOPRebuttal
Followed by Michell Eloy and 1 other

@marcorubio Bless his heart. Why do Republican’s rise and burn out so fast?????

14m ElmObamaTwoTermz ?@lordxmen2k
Clint Eastwood Had An Empty Chair Problem, Marco Rubio Has A Cottonmouth Problem #SOTU2013

Collective response from Americans after Marco Rubio’s speech: “WTF was that?!?!?”

15m Don Millard ?@OTOOLEFAN
Looking forward to the Marco Rubio water bottle skit on SNL, lmao.
Followed by Chris Wade and 5 others

I hope Saturday Night Live has a field day with the Marco Rubio stumble, gulp, and water grab. That speech was clumsy and terrible.

19m Ronan Farrow ?@RonanFarrow
You thirsty, Marco Rubio, or is your throat just parched with hypocrisy?

20m Sanda Ann ?@sandray8s
I’m sorry, did Marco Rubio say something? #RepublicanResponse

21m Alden Schofield ?@aldenm3
For a minute there I though Marco Rubio was going to Waterboard himself, grabbing that water bottle in middle of his speech.
Followed by wd8pvm and 9 others

22m ElmObamaTwoTermz ?@lordxmen2k
Marco Rubio Sounds Like A Comedian, He Even Has Some Bottled Water On Top of The Stool. #SOTU2013

23m Cameron Gray ?@Cameron_Gray
I haven’t seen a guy as nervous as Marco Rubio since I asked that girl to the prom

23m Paul Begala ?@PaulBegala
Marco Rubio: the man you want to have a desperate gulp of water with.

23m Dr. Jill Biden ?@JillBidenVeep
Marco Rubio is playing his own drinking game. #Respect
Retweeted by Little Australia

24m ElmObamaTwoTermz ?@lordxmen2k
Marco Rubio Licks His Lips More Than LL Cool J #SOTU2013

27m ElmObamaTwoTermz ?@lordxmen2k
RuBiOMBED: Marco Rubio Makes Bobby Jindal SOTU Speech Look Good #SOTU2013

27m Alden Schofield ?@aldenm3
Marco Rubio is not ready for prime time. Presentation reminds of a Freshman College communications class. #p2

32m Newt Gingrich ?@newtgingrich
Marco Rubio is doing an excellent job delivering a very powerful and compelling speech

The most glowing response to Rubio comes from conservatives such as the Washington Post’s columnist Jennifer Rubin:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) did not disappoint tonight, showing a fresher face and more dynamic brand of conservatism –- presented by a fresher and more dynamic face. He appeared relaxed and jovial throughout, hardly the stereotype of the angry Republican. Standing in front of the window was a helpful framing — making him “fill up” the screen, if you will. As a TV communicator he did the best job of any State of the Union respondent I can recall. His delivery was briefly marred by grabbing for a swig of water, which depending on your view was either a “real moment” or a rookie error.

NBC Bay area:

Suddenly, bafflingly to all the commenters, from social media personalities to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Rubio—mid thought—lurched forward to grab a drink of water, took an audible gulp, returned the small Poland Spring bottle to a table and continued with his speech.

“The choice isn’t just between big government or big business,” he began before reaching for the refreshment. “What we need is an accountable, efficient and effective government that allows small and new businesses to create middle class jobs.”

But he had lost so, so many by that point, who would go on to create GIFs, create a @thirstyrubio Twitter account, and tweet their wittiest response to the reach that would be forever preserved in slow-motion graphics.

The reality: it’s very early in the game in the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. How many times have we seen likely nominees a year (or less) after an election being touted as great political hopes and fizzle out? Quite often. In reality, Rubio will now give comedians, Andy Borowitz, SNL, Democrats, and bloggers who can’t resist a political comedy set up line a godsend of material for a week or so.

After that? If he’s smart (he is) he’ll show up on Letterman or Leno or Stewart and swig water throughout his interview. He can defuse this (read this Washington Post report that focuses totally on the content of his speech and doesn’t get into the imagery or the water.)

But was it a great start and a great speech? For Republicans, maybe yes. He delivered enough to keep them happy. But was it the kind of home run some Republican spinners had predicted? N-o-p-e.

Here’s the full text of his speech.

He’ll be able to live — and drink — for another day.


(NOTE: This has been slightly tightened up from its original version.)

         

28 Comments

  1. The long frozen smiling posture at the beginning was pretty good. I thought it was a poster till he started to speak, but yeah, going long for that water bottle was the best.

    Rubio: “Government raises taxes on business that have to pass the cost on to their employees”.

    Uh no, they should pass it on to the customer after reducing profit to decent levels and to their employees as a last resort.

    Rubio: “I did not inherit money from my parents, we are not bestowed wealth upon us when we go to Washington”

    Uh no you are “bestowed wealth” after you leave office and the businesses you helped give you that fat cat job with your name on the door of an office you never spend a full day in.

  2. LOL…Rookie mistake. He actually meant to drink that while the puppet was talking. :)

  3. With apologies to the “most interesting man in the world” commercials:

    He has policy rebuttals to the President that people expect.
    He may even suffer xerostomia when speaking in front of cameras to a national audience.
    He is the most interesting Latino Republicans have to offer.

    “I don’t always drink when I’m speaking in front of cameras, but when I do prefer Poland Spring bottled water.”
    “Stay thirsty my friends.”

  4. Puppet talking, eh?

  5. Sheknows…good one…..you are on a roll…

    Thanks and Steve K… i am still laughing…

  6. brcarthey and SteveK……..FUNNY :)

  7. @SteveK: puppet or marionette? It seems shadow groups are the ones really pulling Republican strings in DC now.

  8. I wonder how long it will take for Poland Springs to approach him for endorsement.

  9. @sheknows: Who says they haven’t already and that’s why he drank it in the middle of his speech.

    A company looking to tap the next underground aquifer it can find without pesky regulations getting in the way, lobbyists who always have the cash on hand for a willing politician to make it happen, and for good measure nothing like a little product placement when you’ve got a huge crowd watching.

    Yes, I can be that cynical.

  10. Comments are so funny I am tearing up :)

  11. not sure, but if he’s latino, seriously… incidence of undiagnosed diabetes is high in our heritage group. One symptom… abject sudden thirst. I hope he will check it out

  12. Sorry Jennifer, it’s going to take a lot more than a pretty new face spouting creaky old talking points to save an ailing GOP.

  13. I thought this was a poor time for Rubio. He is obviously not ready for the big stage. I don’t think he damaged himself too much.

  14. You know, whose to say that was water in the bottle? What’s the one thing male politicians in DC seem to love more than extra-marital dalliances? Alcohol. Maybe he needed some to help him relax. You can take your pick as to which clear liquid it could have been besides water.

  15. I realize some are having some fun with this, and the last thing I want to do is be a party pooper but honestly I’m feeling like we may have reached a new low. I saw this story on CNN and thought, really, is that what they are going to talk about? But apparently it’s a much bigger story than I thought, even warranting a prime spot on TMV. (Not trying to be critical of TMV–just pointing out the heights the story has reached from my perspective).

    Seriously, if someone’s chances (whoever it is and whatever their politics) for being president can be seriously compromised because his or her mouth got dry at an awkward moment, I don’t know what the point is anymore. Are we trying to make our country better, or are just trying to look cool like the kids in the back row throwing spit wads?

  16. If his attempt at surreptitiously and furtively quenching his thirst is the only part of his State of the Union rebuttal that America remembers — is talking about — what does that say about the content of his rebuttal? (I would say not at all memorable)

    But yes, I remember something. Here’s the man bashing big government and government largesse while at the same time proudly admitting how his parents have and are benefiting from medicare, how he benefited from education assistance and crying about how much more he owes (owed) while he probably opposed lowering rates on educational loans interest rates. Give me a Latino break.

    And, yes, I am still laughing about his water sipping episode, and I don’t think I have reached a new low…

  17. Dorian, no I think it says more about us than it says about the content of his speech, but that’s just my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, the right does it too with their obsession over teleprompters and such. That’s partly why I don’t frequent the blogs of right-wing hacks and come here instead.

    Of course it is not a contradiction to warn of big government while at the same time recognizing the legitimate pursuits of government. But I see how you could see that as “I support government that benefits me” depending on your underlying opinion of the speaker’s character.

  18. “But I see how you could see that as “I support government that benefits me” depending on your underlying opinion of the speaker’s character.”

    I get your subtlety, AD.

    But I am not going to be so subtle when I categorically state that your statement perfectly applies to the utterly undeserved, “underlying opinion” of all too many in our nation of our present President’s character.

    Yo have the last word, as I am busy wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day :).

  19. Well AD, it could also be that Rubio is another in a line of totally unprepared politicians that have laid their career on the sacrificial altar of the Republican party. Palin and Ryan being the last two lambs. Jindal almost ruined himself. I think Rubio will be ok.

    after watching this over and over again, it is hard not to laugh, maybe to just keep yourself from crying

  20. Rubio’s response was standard GOP boilerplate, and no Marco … Republicans are not victims in the debt ceiling debate.

    Marco’s speech was useful in one respect — it made great fodder for a drinking game.
    “Big government” … bottoms up!

  21. Dorian: “your statement perfectly applies to the utterly undeserved, “underlying opinion” of all too many in our nation of our present President’s character.”

    Absolutely. My statement “The right does it too… That’s why I…” statement applies there also.

  22. adelinesdad: I get what you’re saying in your first two posts, but I didn’t watch the rebuttal simply b/c I don’t watch any of the rebuttals since they can basically be summed up as, “whatever the president just said, we’re for the opposite.”

    In keeping with this style, I bet Rubio’s speech could be paraphrased as “PBO doesn’t understand that higher taxes and more regulations stymy the growth and entrepreneurialship of small business which is the backbone of our labor force and the economy. We want smaller government, lower taxes, and less regulations. Obamacare is a big bloated mess that we need to ditch in favor of a more common sense approach. Deficits matter now so we need to make drastic cuts to funding of all assistance programs that helped most of us growing up and going to college, while not touching the defenses budget.”

    I’m sure there were some other points in there too. But, on the whole, was I close? Jeez, please say yes or I might have to go watch some of it. However, it doesn’t change the overall nature of the political attitude in DC right now: “You’re for it, so I’m against it (even when I proposed it).”

  23. Perhaps the reason everyone is playing up the water gulp is this: Rubio was not even presenting a rebuttal to Obama’s speech, but to Strawman Obama’s SOTU speech. Now, I understand that the response was crafted independently from Obama’s speech; these things likely happen in a vacuum. But, what Rubio did added to the awkwardness that was already the GOP response. Sure, perhaps he was nervous and we can speculate why, but “Gulpgate” (and I say that tongue in cheek; I honestly don’t think it’s a huge deal and reeks of media-bullying) was like a capstone on an already vapid speech.

  24. I felt Rubio’s response was a really lame piece of political theater. He didn’t really offer any viewpoints or ideas besides the same old assumptions that have driven Republican thought for the last twenty years…government is bad, free enterprise is good, I swear I got where I am because I’m a magnificent hard-working guy blah blah blah. To be fair, Obama’s State Of The Union wasn’t much less vague. I am really disappointed that “Rubio drinking water” is the news, but honestly I’m not surprised. It’s the lowest common denominator sort of thing that you would expect from our news media and it’s also the most substantial thing he did while on camera. I don’t think he said anything else of consequence.

  25. The WashPost has a video on “The 10 most memorable moments in Obama’s State of the Union.”

    Care to guess what is and will be the one most memorable moment in Rubio’s rebuttal?

  26. The “Drink of Water” incident is news because it is the ONLY thing in Rubio’s speech that Republicans can defend.

    As Chris Mathews said:

    “… he went after government as some kind of evil, then he admitted that he had gone to school on student loans.
    .
    [...]
    .
    He was saying he was a product of solid government and positive programs, and then he just trashed the whole thing. And then he played this victim game that everybody seems to play today.”

    Yep, the Republicans need this faux water bottle brouhaha because they need a diversion… A diversion to take attention away from the blatant hypocrisy in Mr. Rubio’s words.

  27. SteveK, I agree. He rather tripped over his feet alot on some issues. No wonder his mouth went dry.
    Well, he has a few years to hone his skills at juggling ( camoflaging,burying,denying etc) the truth and becoming a better politician.

  28. Rubio trying to capitalize on water bottle bungle

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made news Tuesday night with his now-infamous “water bottle moment” – but now the Republican lawmaker is trying to capitalize on the minor embarrassment by hawking water bottles emblazoned with Rubio’s name.
    .
    “Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you… he hydrates you too,” reads an enticement for the water bottle on the PAC’s website.

    He must have heard about Mitch McConnell’s increase in net worth and felt he should get some more of his own. :)

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