GOP Debate: Christie and Rubio Square Off in Fiery Exchange
The New Jersey Governor went after the Florida Senator.
By MEGHAN KENEALLY
February 7, 2016, 2:10 AM
• 5 min read
-- The Republican presidential debate got off to a fiery start Saturday night when Gov. Chris Christie went after Sen. Marco Rubio, painting him as a Washington politician who memorizes speeches and can't give straight answers.
The exchange started when Christie was asked to comment about Rubio's preparedness to run for president, previously calling the first term senator "the boy in the bubble."
"First, let's remember something. Every morning when a United States senator wakes up, they think about what kind of speech can I give, or what kind of bill can I drop? Every morning, when I wake up, I think about, what kind of problem do I need to solve for the people who actually elected me?" Christie said.
He went on to attack Rubio's attendance record in the Senate. In the question before, Rubio had touted his work sanctioning terrorist groups as one of his accomplishments while in office, and Christie used that against him.
"The fact is when you talk about Hezbollah sanctions act that you list as one of your accomplishments, and just did, you weren't even there to vote for it. That's not leadership. That's truancy," Christie said.
As for the vote in question, which was on the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, Rubio was not the only senator missing for the vote: they all were. The bill was passed by unanimous consent which does not require senators to be physically on the floor.
Rubio went on attack Christie's initial decision to not immediately return to New Jersey during last month's blizzard.
"Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago. You didn't even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back. And then you stayed there for 36 hours and then he left and came back to campaign.Those are the facts," Rubio said.
Throughout the back-and-forth, Christie attacked what he called "the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what [Rubio's] advisers gave him" about President Obama.
All told, the exchange lasted roughly five minutes, and included at least two of Christie's signature podium leans.
Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.