Marco Rubio is finally explaining his rough performance in the last Republican debate that earned him the nickname "Robot Rubio." "I just pivoted to my message because I didn't want to be involved in a scrum," he said Wednesday, per Politico. Though his plan to spin skirmishes with fellow Republicans into attacks on President Obama or Hillary Clinton didn't work as planned, he says he's only performed poorly in .05 of the eight Republican debates. "In 7.95 of those debates I did very well. I had a bad incident at the beginning of this debate. And it clouded everything else we talked about," he said. "It's on me. So we're going to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Prior to the debate, friends were predicting a Rubio victory in New Hampshire. Afterward, aides admitted it hadn't been Rubio's finest performance. But it was Rubio's own perusal of the "brutal, mocking reviews" on Twitter that showed him "the damage he had done," reports the New York Times. Mocked for repeating the same "25-second speech," Rubio managed only a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire. Congressional Republicans are now questioning his readiness and level of experience, reports the Hill, but Rubio still thinks he'll come out on top. "It is just going to take a little longer," he says. Since no major donors are walking out, "right now, there's no panic," a supporter says. But "everybody is nervous."