Marco Rubio played it cool throughout Thursday, as only a man who knows there is a real possibility of becoming his party’s nominee for president possibly could be.
The 44-year-old Florida senator did numerous interviews throughout the day, fresh off the almost universal recognition that he was the standout in the 10-person field of candidates who participated in the third Republican presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado.
The most dramatic moment came early, when Jeb Bush attacked his protege for his spotty voting record, a statistic repeatedly brought up in recent weeks that finally came to a head on Wednesday when the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun-Sentinel called for him to resign.
The well-rehearsed response by Rubio brought Bush up short, a moment that was replayed throughout the night and into Thursday.
On Sean Hannity‘s syndicated radio show on Thursday afternoon, however, Rubio refused to engage in a tit-for-tat about the former Florida governor, refuting the notion that such attacks would leave any marks.
“I can’t control how other people are campaigning. If that’s what they want to do with their time and money, they should have the right to do it,” he said.
“I’m not going to change who I am. I’m not going to change how I’m running. I’m not running against any of those people on the stage. I’m running for president.”
With that he segued into making it less about him and all about the American people, saying the country can’t afford another four years of Democratic Party rule after the Barack Obama experience.
“Can you imagine waking up on the first Wednesday of November and the headline is ‘Hillary Clinton elected President?’ he asked rhetorically. “That doesn’t just mean the Obama agenda isn’t going to just survive, it’s going to expand, it’s going to become permanent. We’re going to lose what makes this country special. That’s what motivates me to run in this race and do what I’m doing, and if someone wants to make it about something else, that’s their right. It’s not going to change the way we’re running.”