The Slatest

The Other Problem With Marco Rubio’s Broken Record: “Dispel With” Isn’t a Thing.

Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, before the start of the GOP primary debate on Feb. 6, 2016 at St. Anselm’s College Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire.  

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Marco Rubio is being ceaselessly mocked for his horrific performance at the Republican debate on Saturday. Exhibit A is the way he essentially repeated the same line four times, three of them within five minutes. The broken record began at 8:30 p.m.: “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.” Then two minutes later: “Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.”

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Chris Christie went nuts, saying Rubio was regurgitating a “memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.” But you know who else should’ve been wincing? Grammar fiends.

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As Weigel notes, dispel with isn’t really a thing. You can dispel something, sure. (Rubio did little to dispel concerns that he’s not fit for the White House, for example.) But if you want to use with after a verb, then dispense is more appropriate.

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A quick Google search illustrates the uniqueness of Rubio’s word choice. A search for “dispel with” that’s restricted to results prior to Saturday night’s debate shows mostly mentions about video games. It seems Dispel is a spell in Final Fantasy. And you can apparently use Dispel with all kinds of things, including the Holy Torch. That’s probably not what Rubio had in mind.

To his credit, Rubio did fix up the sound bite the second two times. “This notion that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing,” he said the third time around. And then, less than 50 minutes later: “I think anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn’t doing what he’s doing on purpose doesn’t understand what we’re dealing with here.”

Read more Slate coverage of the GOP primary.

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