We give in. Now that a voter -- a real, live voter -- has remarked about Marco Rubio's footwear, we admit our attempts to avoid writing about political fashion have failed. (Though it's an improvement from talk about women's pantsuits.)
To recap: A New York Times reporter on tweeted a photo Monday of Rubio's stylish shoes in New Hampshire, a pair of black leather booties with a mid-heel. The photo went viral.
Marco Rubio is rocking some seriously fashionable black boots today in New Hampshire. pic.twitter.com/lwiSWuuCUt— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) January 4, 2016
Ted Cruz's campaign made a comment about them. (The Texas senator himself is known for his mid-heel cowboy boots.)
Rubio supports Italian boots on the ground pic.twitter.com/fPOnncpWjP— Brian Phillips (@RealBPhil) January 5, 2016
Rand Paul cracked a joke about them.
And then, Thursday in Nashua, came the (male) voter: "Senator, I'm one of the undecideds in the room, and it didn't really make a difference to me, but I am glad you made a better shoe-choice today..."
"My kids told me about this last night," Rubio quipped. About the booties, he added: "I like them." (But he wasn't, in fact, wearing them.)
Rubio turned the remark into an opening to talk about the seriousness of the problems facing the next president.
"This just tells you where we are as a country," he said. "ISIS is cutting people heads off, setting people on fire in cages, Saudi Arabia and Iran are on the verge of a war.... But boy are we getting a lot of coverage about a pair of boots! This is craziness." (They "may make a comeback here soon," he promised.)
For the record, few modern U.S. presidents have been less than 6 feet tall. Rubio measures 5'10". The last president under 6 feet was Democrat Jimmy Carter.
UPDATE: Rubio told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4 later Thursday the boots were a gift from his wife and kids.
"“I think they're pretty cool. They're only for special occasions. Like I think tha'’s the day the Dolphins were playing the Patriots. I was trying to see if they had any good luck associated with them," Rubio said. He added that he doesn't wear them every day: "They kind of hurt your back a little bit."
BuzzFeed News also reported that front-runner Donald Trump, when asked about Rubio's boots in a radio interview Thursday, called the heels "really up there."
"Well, I can't quite, I don't, you won't see me wearing them," Trump said on the The Howie Carr Show. "I don’t know what to think of those boots."
"It helps to be tall," added Trump. "I don't know, they're big heels. They're big heels. I mean, those heels were really up there. But you know, it's almost like, it doesn't matter too much. Probably he would have been better off not going that route. Would you say? I noticed he's taken a lot of hits. I just hope it works out fine for him."