WASHINGTON -- Marco Rubio may have been aiming to take charge as the GOP’s messenger Tuesday night, but it was his thirst, not his words, that ultimately has driven the narrative about his State of the Union response.
The Florida senator, following President Obama’s annual address, spoke at length on the contrast between Republican and Democratic visions, accusing Obama of burdening the American people, and the American dream, with unnecessary government action.
But it was Rubio’s decision to reach off-screen for a small water bottle, anxiously looking at the camera as he took a swig and resumed his address, that captivated the immediate response to the speech. The 10:43 p.m. EST lunge marked a sharp peak in interest in the speech, according to data provided by Twitter.
Rubio took the lampooning in stride, tweeting a picture of the now-famous junior-sized water bottle, and laughing off the intermission on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.
“I needed water, what am I going to do?” Rubio said. “God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human.”
“I figured I was better off just taking that water and taking the hit for it then being unable to pronounce my words. It’d been a long day at work, we’d already done an 18-minute recording in Spanish, and you know, my mouth got dry, what can I say?”
Rubio also celebrated his gain of more than 13,000 Twitter followers following his address.
"I'm going to start drinking water in the middle of all of my speeches!" Rubio said.
Rubio’s response reflects an awareness of just how quickly a public address can be derailed by the occasionally meme-driven punditry, which has been in full swing since its emergence during the 2012 election.
And Rubio may be able to consider himself lucky that significant focus hasn’t been drawn to another vulnerable moment in his speech.
“Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors,” Rubio said, pointing out that he still lives in his hometown of Miami.
What Rubio failed note is that his home is currently up for sale.
[For the Record, 1:24 p.m. PST Feb. 13: This post has been updated to include Rubio's most recent tweet on the water lunge.]