South Floridians React to Marco Rubio's Water Break

"I thought it humanized him,” said Rico Petrocelli, chairman of the Republican Party of Broward County

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    South Floridians on Wednesday reacted to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's water bottle moment during his response to the State of the Union. NBC 6's Keith Jones has the story. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013)

    It was the swig seen around the world. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio grabs for water mid-speech, on national television, and spurs a social media explosion.

    Before the stroke of midnight, Twitter hash tags started trending including: #gulp, #waterbottlegate, #gulpgate and #thirstyrubio.

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    Many might think the cotton-mouthed and perspiring Rubio had the entire Republican Party watching white-knuckled as the moment unfolded during the senator’s high-profile response to the State of the Union Tuesday night.

    But that’s not the case, said Rico Petrocelli, chairman of the Republican Party of Broward County.

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    "I thought it humanized him,” Petrocelli said. “I tell candidates who want to be elected that people have to like you before they'll vote for you.”

    Petrocelli added that it was endearing that immediately after the rebuttal, social media-savvy Rubio got in on the game. He tweeted a picture of the water bottle he used for his "mid-speech swill." The senator even used the hash tag #gopresponse.

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    Rubio isn’t afraid to indulge in self-deprecating humor. Wednesday morning, he continued to laugh about it on network morning shows.

    Nevertheless, South Floridians such as Tiana Jones noticed and were a little uncomfortable as they watched.

    "I feel like he was kinda unprepared and it didn't look good,” Jones said. “I don't think it's being blown out of proportion.”

    When asked if it was hard to watch, Brian Marx offered this: “Yeah, I turned it off. I turned it off. Yes, because I was more focused on how uncomfortable he looked rather than what he was saying.”

    Rubio was back on Twitter later Wednesday afternoon with this: "Picked up 13,000 new followers on #twitter since last night! I'm going to start drinking #water in the middle of all my speeches!”

    The humor continued Wednesday night.

    “Quench your thirst for conservative leadership? Order a bottle now,” the senator tweeted, along with an image of a “Rubio” water bottle. He also included a link to his Reclaim America PAC, which says the water bottle can be had for a donation of $25 or more.

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