Marco Rubio goes off on 'frightening,' 'disturbing' Donald Trump phenomenon after Chicago protests

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Rubio: The Job of a Leader Is Not to Stoke That Anger

For at least 13 minutes Saturday morning, Marco Rubio presented perhaps his most passionate argument yet against GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

"I still at this moment continue to intend to support the Republican nominee, but it's getting harder every day," Rubio said while also strongly criticizing the media for promoting Trump.

A day after Trump suddenly canceled a massive Chicago rally amid fights and mass protests, Rubio said the "third-world images" were the result of Trump's own words.

Click through 10 interesting facts about Marco Rubio:

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Marco Rubio goes off on 'frightening,' 'disturbing' Donald Trump phenomenon after Chicago protests

1. His parents, Mario and Oria, are Cuban immigrants.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

2. Attended Tarkio College for one year on a football scholarship before he later transferred to Santa Fe College.

(Photo by Phil Coale/AP)

3. When he was sworn into office in 2011, he said that he owed $100,000 of student loans which he finally paid off in 2012.

(Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

4. His wife of 17 years, Jeanette, is of Colombian descent and was once a Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

5. He went viral with a sip of water. Rubio gave the official Republican reaction to the State of the Union in 2013, but the only detail most people remembered was the moment in which he became so parched that he reached for a water bottle to quench his thirst.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

6. Though he was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church, he was also baptized as Mormon later in childhood when his family lived in Las Vegas. He is now a practicing Catholic.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

7. He teaches political science at Florida International University in Miami.

(Photo by Charles Ommanney for the Washington Post via Getty)

8. He says the first concert he ever attended was a Prince show.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty)

9. His family used to call him Tony, which came from his middle name Antonio.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

10. Was speaker of the Florida House before he was a U.S. Senator.

(Photo by Phil Coale/AP)

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As Rubio took questions from reporters in Florida, he said:

You saw those images last night of people ... often divided up on racial lines in many cases. Police officers bleeding from the head reminiscent of images from the '60s. I mean, we're going backwards here. This a frightening, grotesque, and disturbing development in American politics.

Rubio pointed to the fact that Trump often deploys violent rhetoric against demonstrators at rallies. At his events, Trump has mused about punching protesters in the face, and once said he would pay the legal bills of his fans if the assaulted anyone trying to throw tomatoes at him.

"This boiling point that we have now reached has been fed largely by the fact that we have a frontrunner in my party who has fed into language that basically justifies physically assaulting people who disagree with you," Rubio said.

On Thursday, a Trump rally attendee was reportedly charged with allegedly assaulting a protester who was filmed raising his middle finger to the crowd before being sucker punched. The incident was brought up at Thursday's primary debate, during which a moderator asked Trump if he was responsible for the "tone" of his rallies.

Trump said he didn't condone the violence, but the next day in St. Louis, the candidate repeatedly complained about how "gentle" his protesters were being treated. He also suggested that protesters waving their middle fingers should be held responsible for provoking others.

"A Donald Trump supporter sucker punched a man the other day at an event. Donald Trump has yet to condemn it," Rubio said Saturday.

He continued:

So it tells you, it tells you in many ways he doesn't want to say anything to his supporters because he doesn't want to turn them off. Because he understands that the reason why they are voting for him is because he has tapped into this anger. The problem is leadership has never been about taking people's anger and using it to get them to vote for you. If it is, it's a dangerous style of leadership.

Rubio, a senator from Florida, has focused his campaign almost exclusively on winning his home state in next Tuesday's primary contests. During his Saturday press conference, Rubio said he was confident in his chances in Florida, but worried about what a Trump nomination would mean for their party.

"I believe Donald Trump as our nominee is going to shatter and fracture the Republican Party and the conservative movement," he said.

Watch the press conference below:

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