Republican U.S. presidential candidate Rubio speaks as Trump listens during the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by ABC News at Saint Anselm College in Manchester

Rubio falters in presidential debate, offering hope to rivals

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Rubio speaks as Trump listens during the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by ABC News at Saint Anselm College in ManchesterBy Steve Holland, Emily Stephenson and James Oliphant MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – Republican White House contender Marco Rubio struggled at a debate on Saturday at the worst possible time, potentially confounding his bid to emerge as Donald Trump’s chief rival in New Hampshire and giving hope to three rivals desperate for a strong showing. Under assault from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over his level of experience as a first-term U.S. senator from Florida, Rubio retreated time and again to canned statements from his stump speech and looked uncomfortably rattled for the first time after seamless performances at seven prior debates. “Marco, the thing is this,” Christie said during one heated exchange early in the night, “when you’re president of the United States, when you’re a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person.” While Rubio recovered later in the debate, the timing of his performance was terrible, coming three days before New Hampshire Republicans register their choices on Tuesday in the nation’s second nominating contest.

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