Rubio ignites feud with crack about Florida-FSU

Posted at 1:41 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 13:41:19-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Marco Rubio has a feud on his hands -- but it has nothing to do with politics.

The Republican presidential hopeful and unabashed football fan ruffled some feathers with some college football trash talk, and the president of the university he dissed is fighting back.

"He's a nice kid," Florida State University President John Thrasher told the Tallahasee Democrat on Tuesday. "I'm sure he's frustrated by his low standing in the polls, which I believe could be a reflection of where he got his education."

The controversy flared up after Rubio made a joke in a Monday interview with Des Moines sports radio station KXnO when he was asked about his alma mater University of Florida's rivalry with FSU.

"Look, I don't have anything against Florida State. I think there has to be a school where people that can't get into Florida can go to college, and so that's why we have Florida State," Rubio said.

Thrasher and Rubio served for a time in the Florida Legislature together before Rubio ran for Senate.

Rubio has made the joke on the trail before, but the clip went viral on Monday.

Rubio laughed off the controversy Tuesday, telling FSU supporters to relax.

"#FSU fans relax. It was just college football trash talk on sports radio, not serious statement on @meetthepress," Rubio tweeted.

The move did win him one fan across the aisle, however. Florida Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted her agreement.

".@MarcoRubio Finally, something we can agree on!! LOL. #GoGators #GatorNation," Wasserman Schultz tweeted.

Rubio, a former college football player, has played up his fandom and experience on the trail. He has talked about his speed on former NFL star Tiki Barber's radio show and accidentally hit a child with a football while running drills on the campaign trail. The child later got redemption.

His campaign also released a video late Monday highlighting his skills as a politician and player, with Rubio answering questions as staffers toss him a football.

Which was he more nervous for, his first college football game or the first presidential debate?

"My first college football game," he said. "Because you were actually going to get hit; no one was going to hit me at the debate."

Rubio also poked some fun at himself, ending the video with a reference to his famous water bottle gaffe from his 2013 State of the Union rebuttal.

Asked how to prep for a big game or big speech, Rubio deadpans: "Make sure that there's water nearby," catching a water bottle.

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