Marco Rubio boards his campaign bus in Atkinson, N.H., on Sunday. (Photo: Mary Schwalm/AP)
In an election year, everything about a presidential candidate gets scrutinized — right down to their heels.
On Monday, Michael Barbaro, a political reporter for the New York Times, noticed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was wearing a rather stylish pair of black boots on the campaign trail.
Marco Rubio is rocking some seriously fashionable black boots today in New Hampshire. pic.twitter.com/lwiSWuuCUt— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb)January 4, 2016
Rubio’s boots have since sent the fashion world into a mild frenzy, with Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen speculating how much they might have cost. Nguyen narrowed it down to four possibilities, ranging from $85 Giorgio Brutini boots — replete with a “Cuban heel” — to a $1,990 pair by Tom Ford.
“Though Rubio’s views may be conservative, his taste in footwear is anything but,” Yahoo Style Editor-in-Chief Joe Zee wrote in an email. “And he’s causing a lot of attention from the ankles down, especially when people are noticing that his boots give him that extra inch (or two). Given that the 5-foot-10 Rubio is the average height of past presidents, maybe he’s trying to gain some edge with this footwear choice.”
Rubio’s campaign told Politico that the GOP hopeful’s boots were merely a $100 pair of Florsheims. But that didn’t stop Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign from mocking them.
“A Vote for Marco Rubio Is a Vote for Men’s High-Heeled Booties,” Rick Tyler, Cruz’s communications director, tweeted, linking to the Cut article.
A Vote for Marco Rubio Is a Vote for Men’s High-Heeled Booties https://t.co/nsjEKqLPr4 via TheCut— Rick Tyler (@rickwtyler)January 5, 2016
Brian Phillips, rapid response director for Cruz’s presidential campaign, fired off a sarcastic zinger.
Rubio supports Italian boots on the ground pic.twitter.com/fPOnncpWjP— Brian Phillips (@RealBPhil)January 5, 2016
Cruz, though, is no stranger to boot heels. The 5-foot-8 Texas senator loves to talk about the black ostrich skin “argument boots” he’s worn since his days as Texas’ state solicitor general. (They even have their own Twitter account.)
“Litigators are kind of superstitious,” Cruz said on the Senate floor in 2013. “So anytime I went into court to argue a case I wore my argument boots. I had them resoled four or five times.”
Ted Cruz’s boots are seen as he speaks at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, in March 2014. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP)
“When I was sworn in standing on the steps just in front of us, I wore my argument boots,“ Cruz continued. "I have worn them every day since. I don’t believe there has been a day on this Senate floor that I haven’t worn my argument boots.”
But during his 21-hour Obamacare filibuster in 2013, Cruz did not wear them, opting for black tennis shoes.
“I will embarrassingly admit that I took the coward’s way,” Cruz told the Star-Telegram. “I really do feel embarrassed by that.”
It’s unclear what effect, if any, the Cruz camp’s ribbing will have on Rubio in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where flashy, high-heeled footwear might make the Florida senator seem out of touch.
But during a town hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, the Florida senator was onstage wearing something decidedly less flashy: loafers.
Rubio speaks at a town hall event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday. (Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)