Florida Sen. Marco Rubio accused Donald Trump on Sunday of turning the “most important election in a generation into a circus,” arguing that increased political polarization will be the country’s downfall.
During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Rubio said Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and calls to violence have made the country more divided than ever, and Americans “can no longer have a debate in this country without it resorting to the highest level of anxiety, of anger.”
Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has been under scrutiny for violence at his rallies, where he has said he would like to punch protesters in the face.
Such statements, Mr. Rubio said, would inspire Mr. Trump’s more unbalanced supporters, and he suggested there could be a fatality at future Trump rallies if the bombastic businessman continues to use inflammatory rhetoric.
“Maybe you think it’s a joke, but there are people out there who are not balanced,” said Mr. Rubio, a rival for the GOP nomination. “When someone is seeking a position of leadership, and is in a position of influence … it’s reckless and dangerous.”
“This country deserves better, and people have to wake up here,” he said. “At some point, this is really going to do damage to America.”
The violence toward anyone who isn’t like-minded is a sign of how increasing polarization could ruin American political debate, Mr. Rubio said, lamenting that “the gates of civility have been blown apart.”
“If we reach a point in this country where we can’t have a debate about politics without it getting to levels of violence or anger where people think just because you’re angry you can say and do almost anything you want, we’re going to lose our republic,” he said. “We’re going to have a big problem. Those images from Chicago the other night, it looks like something out of the Third World.”