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Whoever programmed Marco Rubio did a good job.

Desperate times apparently suit him. In the days after Nevada, when the GOP establishment finally woke up to the reality that is Donald J. Trump, party elites demanded that somebody do something about Trump. Rubio has stepped up to the plate tonight. 

He has gone after Trump for his fraudulent “Trump University,” for hiring undocumented immigrants instead of American citizens, and for inheriting money from his father. At every opportunity, Rubio has unloaded a barrage of prepared attacks on Trump, at times going way outside the issue at hand to do so. He doesn’t seem to be holding anything back and I wonder if he can keep this up. An hour into the debate, Rubio’s had the line of the night: “Without his inheritance Trump would be selling watches in Manhattan today.”

Trump has mostly played rope-a-dope—he seems bored and a little petulant—and when he’s hit back, he’s hit back hard, but Rubio is clearly getting under his skin. And observers are loving it. 

Rubio is doing a good job making this seem like a two-man race, and that will undoubtedly appeal to donors—whether anybody else cares about the flurry of punches Rubio is throwing tonight is another matter, though.