CreditCards.com

Living with credit, Research, regulation, industry reports

In Trump vs. Rubio debt squabble, score is Pot 1, Kettle 0

Jay MacDonald

Should being lousy with a credit card disqualify you from becoming president?

GOP front-runner Donald Trump seems to think so.

Responding to a reporter’s question at a recent New York news conference, The Donald unloaded on the Florida freshman senator’s perennial problems with plastic thusly:

“All you have to do is look at his credit cards. He is a disaster with his credit cards. For years, I’ve been hearing that is credit cards are a disaster. He has a very bad record with finances, if you look at what happened with his houses. He certainly lives above his means, there’s no question about that.”

Pot 1, Kettle 0. But I digress.

Here in the awkwardly named Sunshine State, we’ve been following Rubio’s AmExGate since his successful 2010 U.S. Senate bid. During that campaign, Rubio revealed that, while serving as Florida House speaker from 2006 to 2008, he’d racked up $110,000 in debt on the American Express card given to him and several other Republican leaders by the Florida GOP.

His more questionable AmEx purchases included a four-day family reunion getaway, repairs to the family minivan and “flooring” for his West Miami home. He also admitted he double-billed state taxpayers and the Florida GOP for eight plane tickets.

Rubio says he reimbursed Amex $16,000 to cover personal charges, though for exactly what remains unclear. He maintains the minivan repair was legit because the damage occurred at a political function. The fate of the flooring and other charges are anyone’s guess, since Team Rubio, until this week, refused to consider releasing two years’ worth of AmEx statements. Wednesday morning, Rubio told ABC News he would release the records “in a few weeks.”

So what if Rubio is a tad ADD when it comes to paying by plastic, and refused to answer when the CNBC host of the last GOP debate questioned whether he has “the maturity and wisdom to lead this $17 trillion economy?” He’s certainly not the first presidential candidate who has failed to master their MasterCard.

Remember the 2008 presidential campaign? Republican candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) might have taken more heat when he revealed that wife Cindy had racked up at least $225,000 on two AmEx cards, had his missus not been the heiress to the Hensley beer fortune and hauling in a cool $6 million a year at the time.

Similarly, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had a lone Citi card that showed a balance of somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000. No prob; she paid it off each month, perhaps with help from husband Bill, who was then pulling down anywhere from $100,000 to $425,000 per speaking engagement.

By contrast, this year’s presidential field ranks as a model of fiscal restraint, with six of the 14 candidates (Hillary Clinton, Lincoln Chafee, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie) carrying no debt whatsoever.

So what if Rubio is carrying two 30-year mortgages totaling between $350,002 and $750,000 and a 10-year home equity line of $100,001 to $250,000? That’s chump change compared to the candidate who’s carrying 15 liabilities, most of them mortgages, including four obligations of over $50 million apiece.

That debtor-in-chief? The Donald, of course.

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.