It's no secret that Chris Christie crushed Marco Rubio over his robotically rehearsed talking points during the GOP debate in New Hampshire. It was so bad for Rubio, that instead of the being hailed as the golden boy of the Republican establishment, he was now referred to as Marco Roboto, Rubiot, Rubot and simply, the robot.
Since that moment, the Rubio campaign and his allies like Fox News, have been trying to rehabilitate him from the stigma of that debate performance and without Chris Christie hovering over him, Marco had some wiggle room during last night's South Carolina debate.
As Trump and Jeb was jousting over the Iraq war and W's lies about it, debate moderator John Dickerson threw it over to Rubio for a thirty second follow up. Since he's adopted the neocon playbook, he thanked God, that Bush was president at the time of the attacks and for keeping us safe. This gave Donald Trump another opportunity to bash Jeb's brother and Rubio at the same time and he quickly took it.
TRUMP: How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center -- the World -- excuse me. I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe. That is not safe, Marco. That is not safe.
Rubio responded by using one of his prepared AM radio talking points. The ones that say 9/11 didn't happen on W's watch at all and that lousy womanizer, Bill Clinton was to blame.
RUBIO: The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.
After another quick Trump remark, the debate moved on.
Rubio did five network interviews today and most of them forgot this exchange ever happened - all except one. On Meet The Press, Chuck Todd followed up on Rubio's 9/11 claims about Bill Clinton and asked him to clarify his position. I don't think Marco was prepared for this line of questioning and it caused a cranial short circuit, and in that moment he defaulted back into Roboto. He hilariously got caught up in a continual loop of blaming/not blaming Bill Clinton for the 9/11 attacks.
CHUCK TODD: That's a big charge. I know Bill Clinton has said it is one of his regrets, but he did make an attempt to go after him. But you believe that is a direct result? That basically Bill Clinton's failure led to 9/11?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Well, I believe that if Osama bin Laden had been killed, Al Qaeda as an organization would not have grown to the point where it have conducted 9/11. And it was in response to this argument that Trump was making, that somehow President Bush was responsible for 9/11. And my argument was, no, the responsibility of 9/11 falls on the fact that Al Qaeda was allowed to grow and prosper and the decision was not made to take out their leader when the chance existed to do so.
Not once, but four times, according to the 9/11 report. President Clinton has acknowledged that as a regret. And so the bottom line is that Al Qaeda was able to carry out 9/11 because as an organization, they grew and prospered a capability led by Osama bin Laden. Had bin Laden been taken out, it is doubtful that 9/11 would have happened, at least on September 11th of 2001, because Al Qaeda would not have been in the position to be able to carry something like that out.
CHUCK TODD: So you're not blaming 9/11 on Bill Clinton?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: No, he made a decision not to take out its leader, which I think ended up being there, the situation that happened with 9/11. And as this was a response to an attack, that the reason why 9/11 happened was because of George W. Bush. And my argument is, if you're going to ascribe blame, don't blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself.
CHUCK TODD: So I'm actually still not quite clear. Are you putting 9/11 on Bill Clinton?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO: No, I'm putting it on his decision not to take out bin Laden, absolutely. This is what happens when you have a chance to take out the leader of a terrorist organization, and you failed to do so. And the results are something like 9/11.
Does that make any sense to you? Bill Clinton is either to blame or he's not to blame. That is the question. (Sorry, Shakespeare)
Chuck Todd had no idea what he was talking about and after Roboto's last response, I was waiting for him to reach over and push in his American flag lapel pin to do a cold system reboot.