Trump receives Christie endorsement, then calls Rubio a 'frightened puppy'

After taking a drubbing in Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate from Marco Rubio, Donald Trump pulled no punches in mocking the Florida senator at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mocking his GOP rival on everything from his previous debate performances to the infamous bottle of water Rubio drank from while responding to the State of the Union address, Trump challenged Rubio’s qualifications to be president, his intelligence and even his height.

“He’s a nervous basket case,” Trump said of Rubio. “Did you ever see a guy sweat like this?”

Trump also rehashed Rubio’s previous debate performance in New Hampshire, where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ripped into the Florida lawmaker for repeating himself.

“He was so scared, like a little frightened puppy,” Trump said. “He was sweating so badly, I have never seen anything like it. It looked like he just jumped into a swimming pool with his suit on.”

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At times, the Trump rally felt more like a Marco Rubio roast, with the real estate mogul shaking a water bottle around in mockery of Rubio and imitating Christie’s cool reserve on the debate stage.

Trump’s comments about Rubio came soon after he received Christie’s endorsement for president – a coup for the billionaire businessman who, while leading the polls, has seen few political endorsements.

Christie said Trump was hands-down the better choice for president than Rubio, a first-term senator who "didn't show up for work."

"We don't need any more of these Washington, D.C., acts," said the governor, who had needled Rubio for missing Senate votes back when Christie was a candidate for president himself.

The shock endorsement came after Rubio, in an abrupt shift cheered by anxious Republicans nationwide, shattered months of relative peace with Trump in Thursday night's GOP debate. It marked the beginning of a long-awaited takedown of Trump by both Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Rubio continued the verbal assault on Friday, repeatedly calling Trump a "con artist" in interviews designed to weaken Trump's tight hold on the Republican electorate and questioning whether the real estate magnate has a bladder problem. A new advertising campaign from Rubio allies also attacked Trump's business background and limited knowledge of foreign policy.

"A con artist is about to take over the Republican Party and the conservative movement," Rubio charged on "CBS This Morning." ''And we have to put a stop to it."

Rubio's strategic shift comes as the GOP presidential candidates barreled into the final sprint to Super Tuesday. This, after a name-calling, insult-trading, finger-pointing debate Thursday night at which Rubio and Cruz engaged in a tag-team attack against the GOP front-runner.

Trump has won three consecutive presidential contests and leads polls in most of the 11 states participating in Tuesday's mega-round of voting. Christie's endorsement is a blow to Trump's Republican competitors – not least Rubio, who had been courting the tough-talking New Jersey governor since he dropped out of the race earlier this month.

During Trump’s rally in Texas, the reality TV star reiterated his stance on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and criticized former Mexican President Vicente Fox for recent comments he has made about Trump.

Fox made it loud and clear earlier in the week that he won’t be chipping in for any part of Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I’m not going to pay for that f***ing wall!” Fox told Jorge Ramos in an interview for Fusion. “He should pay for it. He’s got the money.”

Asked about the comment during the debate, Trump said, "That wall just got 10 feet higher."

On Friday, Trump responded to Fox’s comments by saying that his statement is indicative of how other nations treat the U.S. “That’s the way other countries are used to talking to the United States … He dropped the F-bomb and I said to myself, ‘Can you imagine if I said that?’”

“For him it’s okay," Trump added. "I wouldn’t use it. I wouldn’t go there.”

The Associated press contributed to this report.

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