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SOTU: Rubio and 'Water-gate'

USA Today: Twitter “blew up when the Florida Republican reached for a bottle of Poland Spring water as he was outlining the GOP's vision to help the middle class. His speech text ran for five pages, about half the length of Obama's remarks.”

Rubio paused mid-speech, leaned over out of frame, grabbed a small Poland Spring bottle, took a swig of water, swished it, put it back down, and continued.

More: “Twitter said there were about 9,200 tweets per minute at about 10:43 p.m. ET, after Rubio's sip of water. For a short time, #watergate and Poland Spring were trending on the micro-blogging site.”

Politico’s provocative headline: “Marco Rubio’s drinking problem.” From the story: “[T]he Florida senator appeared a little sweaty and dry-mouthed at mid-speech, taking an awkward swig from a bottle of water that had been placed off-camera. Rubio handled the hullabaloo with some humor, later tweeting a picture of the water bottle.”

The New York Daily News: “Thirsty Sen. Marco Rubio makes waves with awkward grab for water.” From the story: “Thirsty for attention? Or just thirsty? Sen. Marco Rubio made headlines for all the wrong reasons Tuesday night as he delivered the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address. It was supposed to be the moment that propelled Rubio into the top tier of potential presidential candidates. Instead, social media exploded with jokes after Rubio awkwardly paused, reached for a bottle of Poland Spring water and took a swig to douse a case of dry mouth.”

For Rubio and his team’s part, they seem to be rolling with it. Rubio went on ABC this morning and made light of it, taking a drink again. “I needed water; what am I going to do, you know? It happens. God has a funny way of reminding us we’re human.”

On CBS, he said: “I'm just glad the water was nearby. I don't know what I would have done without it."

Rubio brought a bottle of water with him on another appearance, too. This one on FOX. “My mouth got dry and I had to get some water,” he said, noting that he’d rather “take the hit” for getting water than not be able to say the rest of the words in his speech. "My mouth got dry, what can I say ... I brought some with me now." He then took a swig.

Aside from “water-gate,” Politico notes: “Sen. Marco Rubio got a turn on the national stage opposite President Barack Obama Tuesday night, but some of the facts the likely 2016 presidential contender marshaled to make his case played loose with the truth” on the sequester, climate change, Medicare, and Obamacare.

As Matt Yglesias noted on Twitter, Rubio’s “middle-class” neighborhood may also be fiction. As the Huffington Post and the Daily Caller reported last month Rubio put his house on the market for $675,000.

On substance, Roll Call says the contrast between Obama and Rubio was “a stark display of the ideological divide between the parties.” Noting “water-gate,” Roll Call writes, “Regardless of his uneven performance, Rubio offered a clear contrast to the president’s call for enhanced government services and programs, such as an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs and money for new infrastructure improvements.”

AP: “Republicans say President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda will bring more tax increases and increase deficit spending. They’re vowing to promote economic growth to help middle-class families find good jobs. Republicans are responding to Obama’s State of the Union address with fresh appeals to voters on the economy and promises to rein in federal spending with a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.”

And Beth Reinhard notes this overlooked bit from Rubio: “By delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union speech in Spanish, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Tuesday broke through an increasingly powerful language barrier between the political establishment and the nation’s fastest-growing demographic. Rubio pretaped his remarks in Spanish and was the first opposition leader whose official response was broadcast on English and Spanish television networks.”

Politico: “Rand Paul tackled gun control, drone strikes, immigration and — first and foremost — spending cuts in a blistering ‘tea party’ response to the President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.”

Reuters: “U.S. Senator Rand Paul blamed Republicans and Democrats for heavy government spending on Tuesday in an address responding to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech on behalf of the small-government, fiscally conservative Tea Party movement. … Paul's remarks under the Tea Party banner prompted talk of division within the Republican Party. But Paul's speech echoed many themes in the official Republican response to Obama's remarks by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who like Paul was elected in 2010 with strong Tea Party support.”

And this is why inviting Ted Nugent is a problem. He slammed Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin, who was critical of the decision to invite Nugent. Langevin is in a wheelchair from a gunshot as a teenager. Nugent: “He probably has s**t for brains. … “I couldn't be more proud of myself, what I stand for, and for this pompous ass to claim that he cares more about a family that lost a child than I do is a perfect example of the brain dead critics of Ted Nugent.”