While defending his own preparedness to become commander-in-chief and promising to undo Obama’s legacy, Rubio thrice repeated the claim that Republicans must dispel the idea that Obama “doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Christie, who has been a vocal critic of Rubio, pounced on what he called Rubio's "scripted" response and argued that the Florida Republican's one term in office was insufficient experience to become President.
“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable,” Christie said. “You just simply haven't. And the fact is—when you talk about the Hezbollah sanctions act that you list as one of your accomplishments, you weren't even there to vote for it. That's not leadership. That's truancy."
"I like Marco Rubio and he's a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be President of the United States," he added later.
Rubio fired back by accusing Christie of worsening New Jersey’s debt problem before pivoting back to his attack on Obama.
The New Jersey governor jumped in, saying: “This is what Washington D.C. does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech. That is exactly what his advisers gave him.”
The audience seemed to approve of Christie’s line of attack, applauding loudly as he skewered Rubio for being “scripted” and not “showing up to work.”
Despite the takedown, Rubio circled back to the same point almost an hour later in the debate, saying "anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn't doing what he's doing on purpose doesn't understand what we're dealing with here, okay?"
Read the first three instances of Rubio repeating his Obama line below.
"Let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking an effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world."
"Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is trying to change this country."
"Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing—"
This post has been updated.
Watch video of their exchange below.