Forget all of the kind-hearted glad-handing between prominent Republicans Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Those sentiments and scenes are faded memories at this point in the long, hard slog for the Republican presidential nomination. After a cringeworthy exchange between the two during last week’s CNBC debate, many folks suspected that the longtime friendship between the men was at a turning point as their competition for third place in the race grew ever tighter. Now, as Jeb Bush struggles to remain relevant amongst a narrowing field of plausible contenders, he is doubling down on criticism of his former pal and fellow Florida politician.
In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Jeb Bush took aim at Marco Rubio’s voting record – or lack thereof – as a Florida Senator, bemoaning a spate of missed votes by Rubio ever since he launched his campaign for president. Excerpts from the interview were posted online by The Huffington Post.
“In this era of gridlock, it’s really hard to break through, and I think he’s given up. And I think that’s the wrong thing to do,” Bush said of Rubio. “This is about public service, about solving problems. I can change the culture in Washington.”
Bush first publicly attacked Rubio’s record during the most recent GOP debate in which he suggested that Rubio was working a “French work week” by making infrequent appearances related to his elected office. In a moment that garnered Marco Rubio substantial praise from pundits, the senator rebuffed Bush’s jabs without hesitation, suggesting that Jeb was targeting him in an effort to improve his standing in the poll.
Jeb Bush’s barbs came on the heels of a stinging op-ed from the Sun-Sentinel, a newspaper based out of Rubio’s home state of Florida, in which the paper’s editorial staff urged Marco Rubio to resign his seat in the Florida senate.
“If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.”
“Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day’s work. Don’t leave us without one of our two representatives in the Senate for the next 15 months or so.”
“You are ripping us off, senator.”
For his part, Marco Rubio addressed the controversy regarding his missed votes in the Senate on Face the Nation, explaining that he had a larger perspective on political strategies and problems.
“The truth is, I don’t like missing votes, but what I would really hate is to wake up on the first Wednesday of November to the news that Hillary Clinton’s been elected president … Far too many votes today in the Senate are predetermined. We know what outcome’s going to be. It’s being done for messaging purposes, but it’s never going to pass.”
According to a new Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll, Marco Rubio continues to hold the No. 3 spot in a survey of Republicans’ support for the current crop of candidates. With 11 percent of prospective votes, his position is unchanged from where he stood one month ago. But Rubio is a distant third behind the likes of second place contender Ben Carson and frontrunner Donald Trump, who stand at 23 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Jeb Bush languishes in forth place, where he is tied with Ted Cruz at 6 percent. Bush actually lost support over the past month according to the IBD/TIPP figures who noted Bush’s support at 8 percent the month prior. Even with the 5 percent margin of error, Bush would only tie with Rubio at this point, and that is a best-case scenario of sorts.
Truth be told, the stakes are high at the third and fourth positions in the GOP race, as both Donald Trump and Ben Carson are inexperienced and untested candidates who could falter and fall from grace at any given moment prior to the most important primary elections. Indeed, if either or both men tank on the polls or fold under pressure, it is a relative certainty that the rivalry between former friends Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush will take on an even nastier tone as the time for America to chose a new president draws near.
[Photo by David Becker/Getty Images]