Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was giving a pretty good Republican rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union address — in the top 10 percent of rebutters, really — when he awkwardly took a drink in the middle of talking. What was so funny about Rubio's not-so-smooth slug was that he tried to maintain eye contact with the camera as he reached for, and drank from, his mini-bottle of Poland Spring. Rubio must have been pretty thirsty, though there were no giveaway glances at the bottle before he dove for it. But make no mistake: This was a very consequential sip of water, given that Rubio's lines about "big government" were quite familiar, as was his biography. That made his sip the most memorable thing about his speech. Let's pay very close attention to this much discussed sip.
First, the look. Rubio was in the middle of saying "in the short time I've been in Washington, nothing has frustrated me more than the false choices like the one — " He seemed to mumble a bit on the word one, which in the prepared remarks was intended to be the plural ones, and he turned his head to his left before finishing the phrase, "the President laid out tonight."
Then, the reach. Rubio stopped talking, but maintained eye contact with the camera and kept his head level. Out of frame, he must have been doing a really weird crouch.
At the moment of contact with the bottle, Rubio must break eye contact with the TV audience and look at his beverage. A false move and he would have toppled the mini-bottle! So it's a quick camera-bottle-camera zag. Poor guy didn't know his nose was behind the C-SPAN logo, but he still managed to keep his eyes floating above the graphic.
Mini-bottle in hand, Rubio drinks while regaining his posture. He stares deeply into the eyes of TV Land. As he sips, he seems to think he's doing something wrong, but he can't stop.
Thirst quenched, he then sets the bottle down, with one last break of eye contact to check where he's placing it.
Bottle dealt with, Rubio actually talks his way back up, more quickly and clearly than he had been speaking pre-sip — "The choice isn’t just between big government or big business" — until he's in position, at which point he clasps his hand together, as if closing the awkward moment for everyone.
The full thing:
Rubio, who seems to have a sense of humor, is trying to own the moment. He tweeted:
Update, Wednesday: Poland Spring is ready for its close-up.
Video of the moment, via NowThis News:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.