In his GOP rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) argued for a smaller government, but unfortunately the substance of his message was drowned on Twittersphere by a single miscue involving a Poland Spring water bottle.
Observers agree that Rubio appeared oddly nervous, perspiring noticeably, mopping his brow during his rebuttal of Obama's State of the Union speech. He was launching an attack on what he called "false choices" of the Obama administration between big government and big business when he stopped abruptly and reached out, leaning out of the sight of the camera momentarily to retrieve a bottle of Poland Spring water for a quick drink.
The moment went viral on Twitter immediately.
As Miami Herald observed, the awkward moment drew attention away from the gist of his argument as Twitter came alive with a myriad of mock handles and jokes poking fun at the Senator:
"I voted in favor of the Violence Against Water Bottles Act," said @ThirstySenatorBuzzFeed also reports that Twitter was flooded immediately with hundreds of mock accounts and jokes about the "water-gate" mishap.
According to the Miami Herald, former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, during the "antediluvian" stretch of Rubio's speech, tweeted: "Go Marco!"
But then came the sip of water, with an effect that echoed around Twittersphere like the primal deluge, prompting Fleischer to comment:
"Hint to Sen. Rubio: crank down the AC before a big speech under the lights. But this is still a very well delivered speech."
Garrett Jackson, an assistant to Mitt Romney during the 2012 election campaign, tweeted: "I would have had that water bottle closer. Marco needs an aide."
CBS Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer commented presciently that history would remember the sip of water more than the speech itself.
Some commentators felt that Rubio may have been nervous or otherwise poorly prepared.
The Telegraph notes that "Rubio water" was trending higher on social media than President Obama's address.
Rubio later joked about his awkward "water break." He said: "My mouth got dry and I had to get some water," Politico reports.
Speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America," Wednesday, he tried to make light of the incident with a laugh: "I needed water, what am I going to do? God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human."
He was also on Fox News’ "Fox & Friends." Taking a demonstrative swig at a bottle, he said: "My mouth got dry, and I had to get some water. You know, when you give a speech on a podium and the water is right there — but when you don’t, you start looking around thinking, 'Where am I going to get the water?' I figured I was better off just taking that water and taking the hit for it then being unable to pronounce my words. It’d been a long day at work, we’d already done an 18-minute recording in Spanish — and you know, my mouth got dry, what can I say? But I was happy overall with what we were able to deliver."
Now, what was Rubio saying?
Speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, Sen. Marco Rubio argued that Obama's emphasis on government investments was misguided policy that could ruin the US economy.
He said: "it isn't bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business."
Marco Rubio, a rising star in GOP circles and a favorite for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, attacked the Obama administration's push to increase tax revenues. He urged Obama to give up what he termed his "obsession with raising taxes," arguing that emphasis on cutting government spending would only worsen the unemployment situation and bankrupt government entitlement programs.
According to CBS, Rubia accused Obama of equating "free enterprise" with "the cause of our problems." He said: "Presidents in both parties - from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan - have known that our free-enterprise economy is the source of our middle-class prosperity. But President Obama? He believes it's the cause of our problems."
He said: "His (Obama's) solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more. And the idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers - that's an old idea that's failed every time it's been tried. More government isn't going to help you get ahead. It's going to hold you back. More government isn't going to create more opportunities. It's going to limit them."
Other Republicans who spoke included House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). He said Obama offered "little more than more of the same stimulus policies that have failed to fix our economy and put Americans back to work. We cannot grow the middle class and foster job creation by growing government and raising taxes."
Ohio Senator Rob Portman accused Obama of promoting "the same big-government policies that have failed to get our economy up and running again."
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, responding on behalf of the Tea Party, said both parties have failed to deal with the trillion-dollar deficits. Paul said: "Washington acts in a way that your family never could - they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem."