Presidential races

Rubio goes after Trump, Bush on foreign policy

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Marco Rubio on Thursday went on the attack against Donald Trump and Jeb Bush on foreign policy, which figures to be a key issue in the GOP presidential race heading into military-heavy South Carolina. 

{mosads}Speaking on CNN’s Situation Room, Rubio said he’s not sure whether Trump, who just posted a resounding victory at the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, has the temperament to be president. 

“I think that’s an open question,” Rubio said. “Certainly to be commander in chief requires you a lot times to choose between two less than ideal choices. It requires you to do things in a way that’s calm and collected and cool and not emotionally driven … but I think the real issue is he’s failed to outline any concrete proposals on foreign policy.” 

Rubio added that he believes Trump, who doubled-up the next closest contender in the New Hampshire primary with 35 percent support, is benefitting from the fractured support among the handful of Republicans that remain in the race behind him. 

“Sixty-five percent of the voters chose someone else,” Rubio said. “As long as that 65 percent is divided up between so many people, he’s going to continue to be in first place. Once the race narrows, those that don’t support Donald Trump will begin to consolidate around fewer choices, and then I think we’re going to start to see the real nature of this race.” 

Rubio also went after Bush, who finished slightly ahead of him in New Hampshire, saying that the former Florida governor has been out of the political arena so long that the world has passed him by. 

“The fact of the matter is Jeb has no foreign policy experience,” Rubio said. “He has no foreign policy experience and was governor a long time ago. The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Foreign policy has changed a lot in the last five years. No one on that stage has more experience or has shown better judgment or has shown a better understanding of national security threats than I have.” 

Rubio entered last week with the wind at his back after a strong showing at the Iowa caucuses. He was at one point projected for a top finish in New Hampshire, but a disastrous debate performance on Saturday sunk his chances, and he fell all the way to fifth place. 

Rubio came under fire from Chris Christie at the debate, and rather than defend himself, he returned several times to a canned talking point aimed at President Obama. 

The incident served to drive home Christie’s point that Rubio is all style and no substance, and the exchange dogged Rubio in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election. 

At his Tuesday night concession speech, Rubio apologized to his supporters and vowed to do better going forward, a message he continued to put forward on Wednesday. 

“Unfortunately, I created a distraction that didn’t allow us at the end of the campaign there to close with our message because everyone wanted to focus on the fact that I said the same thing a couple times,’ Rubio said. 

“It was a mistake,” continued. “I was trying to avoid was an intra-party fight. I don’t like Republican-on-Republican violence in these debates … and I tried to pivot out of that and go back to the core message.” 

He noted that there were seven debates before Saturday where he had done much better. 

“I think it’s important to remember we’ve now had eight debates, and but for that one moment that created this distraction, I’ve performed very well in each of these debates,” he said. “So I think we have to have some perspective here.” 

Rubio said he harbors no hard feelings against Christie, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday after a sixth place finish in New Hampshire. 

“I like Chris Christie very much, and I respect him,” Rubio said. 

“He concluded that attacking me would help him in his campaign. Obviously, it didn’t work, but I don’t hold that against him, I don’t think it was personal, but I think he’s very talented, very likeable, and has a future in public service beyond what he’s doing now.” 

“He was trying to win,” Rubio said. “He was being a competitor, and I understand that, but it’s not going to change how I feel about him.”

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