DALLAS — Marco Rubio on Friday unleashed a full-frontal assault against Donald Trump, blasting him as a "con artist" who is hijacking the conservative movement and mercilessly mocking Trump's alpha-male status.
At a rally here, the U.S. senator from Florida unveiled what amounted to his most comprehensive — and scathing — critique of Trump yet, declaring it "time to pull off his mask so that people can see what we are dealing with here."
"He is a con artist," Rubio said. "He runs on this idea he is fighting for the little guy, but he has spent his entire career sticking it to the little guy — his entire career."
Rubio's full-throated offensive came the morning after he and Ted Cruz teamed up against Trump at the 10th Republican debate in Houston. Rubio specifically pounced on Trump's hiring of foreign workers and his now-defunct Trump University, both examples Rubio cited here as he argued the billionaire is doing a "con job" on voters.
"He's going to Americans that are struggling, that are hurting, and he's implying, 'I'm fighting for you because I'm a tough guy,'" Rubio said. "A tough guy? This guy inherited $200 million. He's never faced any struggle."
Rubio added: "The other day, he told a protester, 'I'm going to punch you in the face.' Donald Trump has never punched anyone in the face. Donald Trump was the first guy that begged for Secret Service protection."
Appearing later Friday morning in nearby Fort Worth, Trump called Rubio's tirade a sign of desperation that shows the Florida senator is not "presidential material." Trump also took issue with a number of Rubio's claims, including that Trump inherited $200 million and that his vodka line went out of business.
"I used to call Ted Cruz a liar, but now I'll also call Marco Rubio" a liar, Trump told reporters before the start of his own rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
At one point in his rally, Rubio pulled out his phone and read from the stage a series of misspelled tweets Trump had sent earlier in the morning. The tweets, one of which called Rubio a "leightweight chocker," prompted the Florida senator to offer two theories for the spelling errors.
"No. 1, that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business," Rubio said, referring to Trump's oft-touted alma mater, "or No. 2, just like the Trump Tower, he relies on a foreign worker to do his own tweets."
It was not the only time Rubio seized on Trump's reliance on foreign labor for some of his properties. As Rubio recalled his parents' immigrant experience, he noted his "mother was a maid, the kind of people Donald Trump hires from other countries."
Rubio also saved some ridicule for Trump's performance at the debate. Rubio suggested Trump had a "meltdown" during a commercial break, scrambling to get rid of a "sweat mustache" he developed and demanding a full-length mirror for an unknown reason. "Maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet — I don't know," Rubio said.
Rubio's Trump criticism, which garnered rowdy reaction here at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas, took a turn for the serious more than once. He blamed the media for propping up Trump in an effort to push him into the general election, where the billionaire's critics believe he will lose against the Democrats' pick. "We cannot nominate someone's who's going to be shredded to pieces, " Rubio said.
As he wound down his Trump rampage, Rubio made a direct appeal to Texans.
"You all have friends that are thinking about voting for Donald Trump," Rubio said. "Friends do not let friends vote for con artists."