Mr Rubio, an early favourite for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, argued sharply that Mr Obama's plans to raise new tax revenues and restrict cuts to government spending would only worsen America's unemployment crisis and bankrupt its expensive entitlement programmes.
Yet his attempts to strike a grave tone were occasionally undermined by a distracting physical display.He perspired under the hot television lights, repeatedly wiped his dry mouth and was eventually forced to reach out of the camera shot to grab a small bottle of Poland Spring mineral water in order to ease his thirst.
Social media was soon abuzz with commentators' claims that Mr Rubio may have been suffering from nerves, or had at least been poorly prepared. "I would have had that water bottle closer," Garrett Jackson, an assistant to Mitt Romney during last year's election campaign, said on Twitter. "Marco needs an aide".
Commentators immediately pounced: On CNN, Wolf Blitzer was captured saying, "uh oh" as Rubio put the water bottle down again, and gifs of the moment immediately popped up on Twitter.
"Rubio water" was in fact trending higher on social media than President Obama's address.
It wasn't long before the clip had even been given the super-slow motion musical treatment, thanks to US website Deadspin.
In an attempt to defuse the situation with humour, Mr Rubio promptly tweeted a photograph of his water bottle on his own Twitter account.
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I dont even care how tedious/frivolous the observations are, I cant stop laughing! So many things going on:
- Rubio's straining/rushing nearly off-screen to reach for a bottle that was apparently sitting in like, THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE
- the anxious attempt to maintain eye contact, then needing to break it in order to see where the fuck the water is
- the size of the water bottle (IT'S SO SMALL)
- the frantic/tiny sip (AFTER ALL THAT TROUBLE!) an the overly amplified gulp (STUPID MIC)
- his then being forced to reach damn-near off camera again to set the damn thing down
- The "thirst" meme that this appropriately invokes (may the GIF spam commence).