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‘Little Marco’ vs ‘Small hands’: Trump and Rubio’s history of spats as VP rumours ramp up

‘Little Marco’ vs ‘Small hands’: Trump and Rubio’s history of spats as VP rumours ramp up

As speculation mounts around whether Florida Sen Marco Rubio could be Donald Trump’s pick for vice president, the duo’s history of internet-famous fights — that gave America unforgettable nicknames for the two politicians — has returned to the spotlight.

The Florida Senator suggested on Thursday that he and the former president had buried the hatchet, appearing open to the opportunity to serve as Mr Trump’s number two, should he be elected.

Mr Rubio called a chance to serve as vice president “an honor and an incredible opportunity to serve our country.” However, he put some rumours to rest, clarifying, “Never once have I talked to [Trump] about the vice presidency.”

The Florida lawmaker’s statement may come as a shock to some, who may remember the duo’s relationship being less than amicable. But their history of spats — which quickly devolved into name-calling and jokes about the other’s physical appearance — seems to have been resolved.

“We’ve had a great working relationship — we ran against each other, so at one point we were competitors — but since 2016, especially when he was president, we worked really well together,” Mr Rubio said.

Here is a look back at the war of words between Mr Trump and Mr Rubio:

Their feud began in 2016 as both men vied for the Republican nomination.

Mr Trump made the first move. He first targeted his perspiration.

In September 2015, in an interview with “Kilmeade & Friends” on Fox News Radio, Mr Trump remarked after a GOP debate: “Marco Rubio, I’ve never seen anybody sweat like that and you know a lot of these guys are serious sweaters.”

Then Mr Trump attacked his record.

Mr Trump called the Florida Senator “Marco ‘amnesty’ Rubio” in a tweet, describing him as having the “worst voting record in [the] Senate.” Days later, the New York real estate magnate called him “just another all talk, no action, politician.”

He also called Mr Rubio a “lightweight” and “overly ambitious, too young” at a rally.

Then, Mr Trump went back to targeting the Florida lawmaker’s sweat.

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump on the debate stage in March 2016 (AP)
Marco Rubio and Donald Trump on the debate stage in March 2016 (AP)

“He sweats more than any young person I’ve ever seen in my life,” Mr Trump said that same month on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I’ve never seen a person sweat -- I’ve never seen a guy down water like he downs water. I’ve never seen -- they bring it in in buckets for this guy.”

In October, he even went so far as to send “Trump Ice Natural Spring Water” to his Republican rival along with the message: “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!”

But Mr Rubio didn’t take it sitting down.

Speaking to Kentucky Sports Radio, the Florida Senator called Mr Trump a “touchy and insecure guy” who is uninformed.

Mr Trump “had a really bad debate performance” and said he “really never talks about issues and can’t have more than a 10-second soundbite on any key issue.”

By February 2016, the name-calling had escalated further.

Mr Trump tweeted about how the Florida Senator looked at a debate, “Lightweight choker Marco Rubio looks like a little boy on stage. Not presidential material!”

Mr Rubio shot back, “I wouldn’t even be the youngest president. But he would be the oldest president ever elected.” He added, “And it’s like an eight-year term, so you start to worry.”

Mr Rubio also remarked on Mr Trump’s tendency to misspell words, saying sarcastically, “That’s how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business.” He also called the real estate mogul a “con artist.”

The candidate clash reached now-famous territory later that month.

Mr Trump had called Mr Rubio “little Marco,” prompting the Florida Senator to throw hands.

“He’s always calling me Little Marco. And I’ll admit he’s taller than me. He’s like 6’2, which is why I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5’2,” Mr Rubio said at a Virginia rally. “And you know what they say about men with small hands? You can’t trust them.”

At the next debate in early March, Mr Trump tried to dispel any rumours linking hand size to the size of a reproductive body part: “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee it.”

Mr Rubio’s March 2024 statement comes as Mr Trump remains the presumptive GOP nominee.

The former president’s hunt for a new vice president comes as his ex-vice president, Mike Pence, recently announced that he wouldn’t endorse Mr Trump for president.