Marco Rubio came into Saturday night's debate with a target on his back following his strong finish in Iowa, and Chris Christie didn't hesitate. He attacked Rubio early, saying the Florida senator "simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States" and mocking him for getting rattled when he has to veer from his "talking points." When Rubio repeated himself in criticizing President Obama, Christie lit into him again: "There it is, the memorized 25-second speech,” he said, per Politico. "There it is, everybody." The reason behind Christie's attacks: Both candidates are vying to be the "establishment" choice to take on Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, notes the Washington Post.
At one point during their back-and-forth, Rubio criticized Christie for having to be "shamed" into returning to New Jersey after the recent snowstorm. And Christie criticized Rubio for abandoning his immigration bill. “It’s abundantly clear that he didn’t fight for his legislation,” he said. “That’s not what leadership is. That’s what Congress is.” Some on-the-spot analysis from Jeremy Peters at the New York Times: "When it was his turn to respond, Mr. Rubio seemed unnerved, off-kilter and robotic," while "Christie flashed his characteristic sharp, cutting ability to diminish a rival."