At the tenth GOP debate, Marco Rubio came at Donald Trump with everything his opposition researchers had. Rubio reached into Trump’s closet, pulled out some grade-A skeletons, and tossed them across the stage at the University of Houston. But they won’t do the Florida senator any good if he can’t convince viewers that they’re real.
Rubio started his onslaught by reminding America that Donald Trump once criticized Mitt Romney for going too far to the right on immigration. Romney had suggested that the government could get the undocumented to self-deport by making life in America hard for them. A tough policy to be sure, but one that doesn’t hold a candle to the Donald’s “deportation force.” Yet, in 2012, Trump called Romney’s self-deportation concept “mean-spirited” and “crazy,” and argued that it ultimately cost him the 2012 election.
The Florida senator proceeded to call America’s attention to Trump’s hiring of guest workers at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. On Thursday, the New York Times reported that since 2010, 300 American workers had applied for jobs at Trump’s resort. But only 17 were hired, even as the club applied for over 500 guest-worker visas.
Then Rubio dug deep into the archives and unearthed a decades-old lawsuit that Trump settled for $1 million. His crime? Staffing a wrecking crew with undocumented Polish workers.
Trump tried to rebut these claims as best he could — which was not very well, because all of them are true.
On his Romney remarks, Trump claimed that he hadn’t objected to the candidate’s policy of self-deportation, only his policy of losing.
“I criticized Mitt Romney for losing the election. That’s what I criticized Mitt Romney for,” Trump lied.
On Mar-a-Lago, Trump insisted that he could not get enough American workers to staff all the seasonal jobs his resort requires during the busy season. (Many American workers who applied for jobs at Mar-a-Lago would disagree.)
As for the Polish workers, eventually all the mogul could sputter in his own defense was, “Yeah, yeah. That was 30 years ago.” That cleared the way for the candidate formerly known as Marco Robot to improvise the best quip of the night.
Still, Trump never really lost his swagger. When Rubio said, “You’re the only person on this stage that’s ever been fined for hiring undocumented people to work on your projects illegally,” the Donald retorted, “I’m the only one on this stage that’s hired people.”
The audience raucously applauded the job creator’s assertion of authority. In a world where empirical reality holds any sway over human perception, Rubio won the exchange handily. But who still believes we live in that world?
Apparently, Marco Rubio does. Trump tried to blot out the Florida senator’s assertion of inconvenient facts by shouting, “Wrong. That’s wrong.”
“People can look it up. I’m sure people are googling it right now,” Rubio replied. “Google, ‘Trump Polish workers.’ You’ll see.”