Chris Christie went after Marco Rubio at the Republican debate Saturday night for giving canned answers.
Rubio's response: canned answers.
Christie started the exchange by pointing to his record as a can-do governor of New Jersey, contrasting himself with the do-nothing Congress. He said, "Every morning when a United States senator wakes up, they think about, 'What kind of speech can I give, or what kind of bill can I drop?' Every morning when I wake up, I think about what kind of problem do I need to solve for the people who actually elected me. It's a different experience."
Rubio's strategy was first to attack Christie — pointing out that New Jersey's credit rating has been downgraded under him — and then abruptly changing the subject, pointing to Obama: "Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don't want to be like the rest of the world. We want to be the United States of America."
That's when Christie pounced. He laid out the Rubio strategy: "That's what Washington, DC, does: the drive-by shot at the beginning, with incorrect and incomplete information, and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him."
Rubio didn't do himself any favors. He repeatedly tried to make the same point about Obama, which gave Christie more and more chances to make the same point about Rubio's stump speech. It didn't look good for Rubio.
More broadly, both candidates are trying to land their arguments on experience. Christie is trying to argue that he has the best experience as governor to immediately get to work if he becomes president. Rubio, on the other hand, is trying to argue that experience doesn't matter as much as vision — and he thinks he has the right vision to reverse the damage he feels Obama has done to the US.