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Dec 16, 2015 10:49 PM

Steinhauser: Rubio criticizes Trump over nuclear triad answer, resumes feud with Cruz

NH1 Political Director -

MANCHESTER – Marco Rubio gave Donald Trump a pass on the GOP front runner’s inability to answer a question on the nation’s nuclear triad at Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate.

On Wednesday, at a brief campaign stop in New Hampshire, Rubio wasn’t so forgiving.

And the senator from Florida also picked up where he left off the night before in his feud with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another GOP White House candidate who’s poll numbers are also on the rise.

At the debate in Las Vegas, Trump was asked by moderator Hugh Hewitt about the nation’s aging nuclear triad and which parts of it he felt needed a priority upgrade. Trump was unable to answer the question in his response.

Rubio was next to speak, and he quickly gave a definition of the nuclear triad for the viewers benefit, and then answered Hewitt’s question. But Rubio didn’t directly criticize Trump.

Asked by NH1 News on Wednesday if he was concerned that the Republican presidential front runner was unable to answer the question Rubio was more critical of Trump, responding that “I’ve always said commander and chief is the most important part of the presidency. You most certainly need to have a basic understanding of the military apparatus of this country. You can learn a lot about this. It is available. People can take the time to learn it. It’s an important issue.”

Rubio spoke with reporters following a rally with supporters at a hotel and conference center just one mile from Manchester’s airport. The event was the only one for Rubio in a very brief stop in the first-in-the-nation primary state. It was the senator’s second campaign rally of the day, following a similar event in Iowa about four hours earlier.

At the debate, Rubio and Cruz battled over national security, intervention in the Middle East, and over illegal immigration.

"Three times he voted against the Defense Authorization Act, which is a bill that funds the troops,” Rubio said of Cruz.

That fight resumed on Wednesday.

“The world is growing more dangerous and we are weakening our capabilities militarily. And that’s what we are doing now with the cuts we are facing. Does it make any sense to support even deeper cuts as some of my rivals running for president have suggested,” Rubio said to supporters during the rally.

“It’s not enough to say how tough you’re going to be. What are you going to be tough with. You have to have the military capability to do it,” he added, in another veiled attack on Cruz.

Talking to reporters, Rubio took off the veil.

He compared Cruz’s approach to foreign policy to that of President Barack Obama, because Rubio said both allow unfriendly regimes to sprout.

“This idea that we can lead from behind or in the case of Sen. Cruz not lead at all would just leave more of these vacuums in other parts of the world,” Rubio said.

And he criticized Cruz as a flip flopper on the issue of illegal immigration.

“Sen. Cruz has consistently supported a pass to legalization. He did it in the Senate at a committee meeting, he did it to the New York Times. I know he leaves it out of his stump speech .. that is interesting lawyerly language. He has been a supporter of legalization consistently. He has consistently refused to rule it out. If he has changed his position on that issue, then he needs to answer the question of what he would do with the people that are here now, which he has refused to answer at this point.”

At a news conference in California, Cruz responded, saying “my stance on immigration has been consistent. I categorically oppose amnesty.”

“This is an­oth­er ex­ample of the Ru­bio cam­paign try­ing to spread mis­in­form­a­tion,” Cruz added.

First on NH1 News

While Rubio’s stop in the Granite State was extremely brief, he announced he’ll be back for a three day swing next week. NH1 News learned that the Monday through Wednesday trip will include events in Rochester, Conway, Berlin, Littleton, and Franklin.

And NH1 News was first to report that over the next two weeks Rubio will be beefing up the size of his campaign staff in New Hampshire.

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