Feb 4, 2016 11:26 PM
NH1 News Political Director
PORTSMOUTH – Marco Rubio says some of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination are getting “a little desperate,” forcing them to “lash out” at the senator from Florida.
And in an interview with NH1 News on Thursday, Rubio also took aim at Ted Cruz, saying the senator from Texas is “willing to say and do anything in order to get votes.”
Rubio spoke one-on-one with NH1 News on board his campaign bus, minutes before he held an 8am town hall in Portsmouth. The day before, President Barack Obama visited a mosque for the first time during his tenure in the White House.
Pushing back against some of the GOP presidential candidates, Obama said “recently we heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans. It has no place in our country.”
Rubio was critical of Obama’s comments, saying “I just think he’s talking about Islamophobia and things of this nature. I don’t see it in this country. I think people are worried about terrorists. I think people are worried about jihadists. But I don’t think there’s some widespread hatred of Muslims in America.”
And Rubio accused the President of “trying to sow some sort of division where he’s basically sending a message to America, some sort of hateful and discriminatory country.”
Rubio talked with NH1 News the morning after another rival for the nomination, former Sunshine State Gov. Jeb Bush, criticized his fellow Floridian, telling this reporter that “I’m a proven leader and he has not shown those leadership skills because he hasn’t been in a position to do it.”
Asked to respond, Rubio fired back that “Jeb endorsed me to be vice president in 2012. I mean he wanted Mitt Romney to pick me as his vice president. I think the only thing that’s changed between now and 2012 is that I have three more years of experience and Jeb and I are running for the same office. I mean people are going to say what they’re going to say when they’re running for president and that’s fine. We’re going to focus on America and the future and that’s what this election should be about.”
Rubio’s also been engaged in recent weeks with in a war of words with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who earlier this week called Rubio the “boy in the bubble” who was not answering reporters’ questions.
The next day Rubio took 13 questions at a news conference with reporters. Asked if he was trying to prove Christie wrong, Rubio responded “we’ve been doing this all the time. If you had been with us in Iowa you would have seen us do that as well, we’ve now done seven nationally televised debates. I go on every interview show that will have me, answer any questions that they have.”
“When you’re running against someone for president, maybe things aren’t turning out the way you want, you get a little desperate, you lash out, that’s all right. We’re going to focus on what this election is all about. This election is not about me. Not about any of the other candidates. It’s about America and America’s future.
Rubio spoke with NH1 News the day after GOP front runner Donald Trump and Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses, were engaged in a spat over Trump’s accusations that the Cruz campaign in Iowa fraudulently told some caucus goers that rival Ben Carson was suspending his campaign, which was not true.
While Bush told NH1 News on Wednesday that Trump was a “sore loser,” Rubio instead took aim at Cruz, saying “I think that it’s part of a broader problem here. And I’ve been saying this for a while. I like Ted but he’s willing to say and do anything in order to get votes. And in this case you saw what it was. And it’s distasteful, it’s wrong, Ben deserves better. He deserved better and the voters in Iowa deserved better. So I think the bigger issue, it illustrates a little bit of the problem Ted has here that people are starting to learn about.”
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