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Senator Mark Rubio's drinking problem during President's State of Union address

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Senator Mark Rubio
Senator Mark Rubio

It was the gulp heard around the world.

Senator Marco Rubio's desperate thirst quenching impulse near the end of his response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union sent Twitter users into a frenzy.

Rubio, who had looked ill at ease mopping his forehead in front of the bright lights, suddenly provided the viewing public with the probable reason: bone dry thirst.

Twitter itself said there were about 9,200 tweets per minute after Rubio's sudden dive to the right of camera to retrieve a tiny plastic water bottle. For a short time the hashtags #watergate, #gulpgate and #PolandSpringsWtr were trending on the social media site.

GOP strategist Mike Murphy tweeted that the water bottle moment detracted from the substance of the senator's remarks. 'Strong material but the trivial water bit will get endless attention. #LifeUnfair,' Murphy tweeted.

But former Democratic strategist Paul Begala was less kind, tweeting: 'Marco Rubio, the man you want to have a desperate gulp of water with.'

Read more US politics news here

The unexpected fun commentators were suddenly having saw Rubio's message get lost on social media about eleven minutes into his speech, when the visibly overheated senator made the dive for his bottle.

It was, NBC anchor Brian Williams remarked drolly, an 'impassioned drink of water.' It was also in that moment that Rubio, the man who Time magazine recently crowned The Republican Savior, looked most sincere.

From little ripples come great ones. Objections to the content of Rubio's speech quickly became objections to his character.

Bill Maher tweeted: 'Wow, what a shameless liar this Rubio guy is – Obama created more debt than Bush? Well, if you don’t believe in science, why not math too?'

Kevin Powell saw the real writing on the political wall, tweeting: 'I hope Saturday Night Live has a field day with the Marco Rubio stumble, gulp, and water grab. That speech was clumsy and terrible.'

But it was Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama, who really nailed what was happening, tweeting: 'Rubio going the way of (Bobby) Jindal - just slightly more nervous and with a little bit more sweat.'

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