WASHINGTON » “I am now the proud owner of the most famous bottle of water in American politics,” Todd Harris, Marco Rubio’s political adviser and spinmeister tweeted in the early morning hours Wednesday.
It was the Rubio camp’s spin on an avalanche of tweets in response to the Republican senator’s response to the State of the Union address, a partly successful attempt to laugh off the sip seen ’round the world.
Rubio’s water-bottle-gate moment set political gossips atwitter, but seems unlikely to have much shelf life. It did at least distract momentarily from the Florida senator’s moment as the Republican pitchman on nationwide TV — a sign of our close-up media culture and the rapid sweep of social media.
Rubio’s sober message about the national debt was nearly lost in the clutter when the senator interrupted an otherwise confident-sounding rebuttal speech by reaching well off camera to grab a water bottle and take an audible gulp. It was not the smooth delivery TV viewers have come to expect.
Rubio, a savvy tweeter who seems quite comfortable with social media, took part in the fun by sending off a picture of the Poland Spring bottle and labeling it the Republican response.
“Great move by Rubio to show he’s got a sense of humor,” one defender tweeted.
Others were not so kind.
“I don’t always drink water, but when I do, I prefer to be awkward,” one wag tweeted. “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
“Marco Rubio: the man you want to have a desperate gulp of water with,” said another.
“EBAY it,” another said of the bottle. “I bet it goes for more than Twinkies did after the scare.”
This brouhaha does not appear to have legs, because it does not seemed tied to a perceived weakness.
When a wild hare once attacked Jimmy Carter’s canoe, the quirk of nature reinforced the idea that he was a hapless president. When Dan Quayle looked like a deer caught in the headlights in a debate, it reinforced the idea that he was a dummy. When George H.W. Bush glanced at his watch in a debate, it reinforced the idea that he was aloof during hard times.
Rubio, usually a telegenic presence, was visibly sweating Tuesday night under the hot lights of TV; he wiped away beads of perspiration five times during his 14-minute speech.