POLITICS

Thirst for power? Or just thirst? Sen. Marco Rubio’s weird, viral dry-mouth moment

 

The small bottle of Poland Spring water was irresistible. Eyes fixed on the camera, Sen. Marco Rubio interrupted his own speech on national television to take a live swig.

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mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com

Sen. Marco Rubio was cruising along in his rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night when he couldn’t take it any longer.

The small bottle of Poland Spring water was irresistible. Eyes fixed on the camera, the Florida Republican interrupted his own speech to take a live swig.

It quenched his thirst, but sent Twitter ablaze. The small, live on-camera miscue helped throw cold water on his GOP response to the president’s speech. As if on demand, a tidal wave of mock handles flooded Twitter.

"I voted in favor of the Violence Against Water Bottles Act," @ThirstySenator, tweeted. BuzzFeed noted hundreds, if not thousands, of such accounts and jokes instantly sprang up on Twitter.

Rubio poked fun at himself, later tweeting a picture of the water bottle "#GOPResponse #SOTU #gop #tcot."

Former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer captured the GOP sentiment about the antediluvian and postdiluvian aspects of the speech.

"Go Marco!" he tweeted early on. Then came the sip heard round the world.

"Hint to Sen. Rubio: crank down the AC before a big speech under the lights. But this is still a very well delivered speech," Fleischer wrote.

CBS Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer commented on national television that people were going to remember the sip more than the speech.

Rubio loves his water. Remember the strange Clint Eastwood speech at the Republican National Convention (where he yelled at a chair)? Rubio followed him and made a nervous joke — after he took a sip from a water bottle at the podium.

“I think I just drank Clint Eastwood’s water,” Rubio smiled. Rubio’s speech that night was solid, but he flubbed a line at the very end, accidentally calling for “more government instead of more freedom.”

From a theatrical perspective, the RNC address and tonight’s speech were a sign that Rubio isn’t at his best with a prepared speech. His rhetorical skills are better designed for the floor of the Senate, in a give-and-take debate or during an interview. Off the cuff, Rubio seems far less likely to come up short.... or thirsty.

Regardless, this on-camera incident was just inexplicably odd for a politician so accustomed to being under the media spotlight.

"In the short time I’ve been in government, nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the ones the president laid out today," Rubio said Tuesday night, reaching for the water bottle.

One second.

Two seconds.

Three seconds.

"The choice isn’t just between big government or big business," he resumed after taking his swig. "What we need is an accountable, efficient and effective government that allows small and new businesses to create more middle-class jobs...."

I’m sorry, you were saying something?

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