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Rubio on Trump's Stubby Fingers: 'You Know What They Say About Men With Small Hands...'

It's come to this, friends: Barely-disguised...anatomy barbs on the presidential campaign trail. After months of Donald Trump blasting every critic and rival with 
crude and vicious insults, Marco Rubio has made the calculation to respond in kind, starting at last week's debate. The resulting feud has escalated predictably, with Trump trolling Rubio as "little Marco," ridiculing the Florida Senator's perspiration and, um, consumption of water. To which Rubio has shot back, oh yeah, well Trump doesn't sweat because his pores are clogged by orange facial spray -- and have you noticed his teeny baby fingers? Watch:

Other zingers include asserting that "tough guy" Trump has never punched anyone in the face (after saying he wanted to punch a protester at a rally), suggesting that Trump received a military deferment because of a squash injury, and questioning the size of the heir's personal fortune.  What's Rubio's angle here?  He seems to recognize on some level just how unseemly these junior high taunts are, yet he's playing Trump's game and ratcheting them up anyway.  Why?  Four reasons:  First, he's conveying a message that Trump is a ridiculous, unserious con artist who deserves to be treated as a punchline.  One wonders how different the complexion of this race might be today if the rest of the field had adopted a similar tone much earlier.  Second, he's needling Trump in ways that are clearly designed to get under his skin -- his iridescent orange skin, Rubio would probably add.  Trump dishes out personal venom routinely, but he loathes the taste of his own medicine.  Suggesting that Trump isn't really as rich as he claims to be (there are 
good reasons to suspect he's exaggerating, which he does habitually) drives Trump up the wall, as does mockery of his under-sized hands.  No, really. Rubio's exploiting these sensitivities ruthlessly, provoking Trump into going on rambling tangents at his own events. Third, he's co-opting the Trump strategy of flood-the-zone controversy and insult comedy.  The Trumpstream media has been giving the (alleged) billionaire hours upon hours of free airtime, allowing Trump to dominate news cycles without spending very much money on ads.  If that's what it takes to steal some of the limelight, Rubio figures, what have I got to lose?  Hey reporters, have I mentioned how Trump reminds me of a clownish orangutan?  The resulting pearl-clutching from the press has been striking for its utter hypocrisy alone.  Stephen Miller snarkily channels media bien pensants:

Fourth, this high-octane brawl has helped drive the two-man race narrative Rubio wants and needs heading into Super Tuesday and beyond. Ted Cruz is getting in on the Trump bashing act, too -- ripping him over hiring illegals to build Trump tower and speculating that Trump is hiding mafia ties in his unreleased tax returns -- but the vast majority of the coverage has gone to Rubio's more colorful broadsides.  We'll know soon enough whether the Floridian's recent 
debate win and no-holds-barred tactical shift redounds to his benefit.  Rubio needs to stay relatively competitive in the delegate accrual race on Super Tuesday.  If he or Ted Cruz underperform significantly tomorrow (the stakes are higher for Cruz, given the map), they're effectively finished.

Allahpundit is also correct that there's a major element of catharsis behind Rubio's new schtick.  Anti-Trump conservatives have watched with increasing frustration as one tactic and criticism after the next has flopped over many months, barely fazing Trump at all.  Regardless of whether Rubio is actually helping himself, his roundhouses are connecting, sending Trump and his supporters into a tizzy.  It is quite precious to see the Trump brigades, of all people, whining about personal attacks.  The truth, of course is that his cult of personality revels in his poor behavior, but cannot stomach the exact same conduct from anyone else.  Team #NeverTrump needed an emotional release, and Rubio grinningly delivering Trumpesque potshots is satisfying a deep-seated need for a demoralized group of voters.  Finally, if "he peed his pants" cracks aren't exactly your speed, I'd direct you to Christine's post on Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse's proclamation that he'd support neither Hillary nor Trump in the general election if the latter wins the GOP primary.  Sasse lays out a thoughtful, respectful, principled case that never approaches the sort of tone that refers to the frontrunner as, say, a short-fingered vulgarian.  Read 
the whole thing.  I'll leave you with Rubio rejecting Trump's unconvincing excuse for why he repeatedly declined to criticize David Duke and the KKK:

UPDATE - New jokes, and an explicit indictment of the press:

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