The morning after launching into attack after attack on Donald Trump during Thursday's Republican debate, Marco Rubio wasn't about to let up.
Rallying about 500 people in Dallas, the junior senator from Florida tried to reduce the Republican front-runner to a "con man." At the same time, Rubio sought to elevate himself as the candidate who could prove that Trump is not who he says he is.
"It's time to pull his mask off so people can see what we're dealing with here, and what we're dealing with is a con artist," Rubio said. "He made his entire career sticking it to the little guy."
During the debate, Rubio said Trump would be a sketchy sidewalk salesman if he didn't inherit tens of millions from his father. He also portrayed Trump as a hypocrite for hiring the kinds of undocumented workers he now wants to deport, and ridiculed the former reality TV show host for having a vague plan to replace Obamacare.
Still, most observers concluded that Trump either won or tied the debate, although Rubio was credited with emerging as a strong opponent. Trump dominated in a Bloomberg poll released on Thursday of southern states taking part in the upcoming burst of nominating contests on March 1, or “Super Tuesday.”
In Dallas, an animated Rubio spent seven of the first eight minutes of a speech lashing out at Trump, at one point reading a selection of his post-debate tweets and mocking his misspelling of the word "choker."
"Lightweight Marco Rubio was working hard last night. The problem is, he is a choker, and once a choker, always a chocker! Mr. Meltdown," Trump said in a tweet that was later deleted and resent with the spelling corrected.
"I've only reached two conclusions: number one, that's how they spell those words at the Wharton School of Business, where he went," Rubio said at the rally. "Or number two, just like at Trump Tower, he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets."
Rubio also repeated a claim from the debate that Republicans can't afford to turn over their party to Trump, and read out a list of businesses in which he's failed, including Trump Vodka, an airline and casinos.
John DeRudder, 46, of Allen, Texas, was among those at the rally at Klyde Warren Park. He welcomed the more aggressive tone from Rubio.
"I love it," DeRudder, chief financial officer for medical devices and internet firms, said of the senator's sharper demeanor. "It's a good time for it and I think had he done it earlier in the campaign it would have fallen away. I like the timing. I like that he's calling out Trump now and it will make a real difference for him in Texas and across the whole country."
Andrea Beck, 33, an online marketing director from Dallas, said she thinks Rubio's shots at Trump were substantative and focused squarely on his business experience without veering into personal experience.
"Yes, but it makes me a bit nervous though just because it might draw some criticism—which can happen if you go too low," Beck said as she left the rally. "People held off on attacking Trump because they thought he would kill himself off. He hasn't self-destructed in the way everyone counted on. So I'm glad he's going for the jugular but in an appropriate way."
Trump is a "dream candidate" for Democrats and if he wins the nomination they'll "shred him to pieces," Rubio said. “Friends do not let friends vote for Donald Trump," Rubio said.