The 2016 presidential campaign has already seen its share of controversial rhetoric when it comes to candidates trying to make the case that they should be elected to the presidency in November to succeed two-term incumbent Barack Obama. On the Republican side, much of the criticism has been directed at President Obama’s style of leading the country. Among the most controversial parts have related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) and his focus on passing legislation to combat the controversial topic of climate change.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida sparked heated criticism with his remarks about Obama’s agenda by tying them to a massive snowstorm that hit the East Coast this past weekend. The storm, which led to some areas receiving more than three feet of snow, is believed to be responsible for at least 28 deaths due to auto accidents, hypothermia and the attempted shoveling of snow. In addition, the calamity will likely result in billions of dollars of damage to homes and vehicles. Rubio was campaigning for the presidency in Portsmouth, New Hamshire, at a town hall ahead of the February 9 primaries in that state.
He used the storm to point out how the closing of agencies in Washington, D.C., prevents any new regulations from being passed. He then sarcastically commented that the storm had apparently frozen the President’s “executive order pen,” before adding that it was one of the best things to take place in the United States in a while. The reference to “executive order pen” was directed at President Obama’s new strategy as he begins his final year in office, a strategy that Rubio considers unconstitutional.
For the first seven years of his presidency, Obama has been unable to muster any support from Republican politicians for his plans. In order to combat that problem, the President has begun signing executive orders, which make his directives legal and cannot be repealed in the Republican-led Congress. The remarks by Rubio were attacked not only by Democratic politicians, but one of his rivals for the Republican nomination, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Christie’s state was one of those directly affected by the storm, a fact which had earlier sparked a separate controversy when Christie originally indicated that he wouldn’t stop campaigning in order to return to deal with the storm. After enduring severe criticism, Christie changed his mind.
Speaking after the storm had passed on the morning of January 25, he spoke to Jake Tapper on the CNN program, “State of the Union,” and directed his anger toward Rubio’s comments. Saying that they were “immature,” Christie then compared his job of running a state to Rubio’s current position, which he said had no responsibilities and was much like attending school. Christie has dealt with 17 snow emergencies during his six years in office, which he indicated was an example of how he can perform in a crisis.
In addition, he was also in office during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Spokesmen for Rubio attempted to point out what they considered to be Christie’s hypocrisy by citing his change of heart in attending to the storm. They also indicated that some of Christie’s previous positions on pertinent topics like abortion, gun control and judges. Neither Rubio nor Christie is expected to win either the February 1 Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire primary. However, both are attempting to stay among the top tier of candidates in order to maintain some momentum for the additional primaries ahead over the next five months.