ESTABLISHMENT “REPUBLICANS” GO AFTER EACH OTHER
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida got into a terse exchange with his one-time political mentor, former Sunshine State governor Jeb Bush, during the latest “Republican” presidential debate.
And judging by the reaction from the crowd – and the media – the pupil has become the teacher.
At issue? Rubio’s failure to show up for work in Washington, D.C. – which was called out this week by a Florida paper that previously endorsed his candidacy for U.S. Senate.
“Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work,” Bush said. “I mean, literally, the Senate — what is it, like a French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.”
“I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record,” Rubio responded. “The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
As the crowd applauded him, Rubio then deftly pivoted to how his campaign was “about the future of America” and not about “attacking anyone else on this stage.”
Here’s the clip of Bush’s exchange with Rubio …
(Click to play)
Not surprisingly, Rubio was heralded – and Bush harpooned – by the press.
“Rubio’s strong performance could prove to be devastating for his one-time mentor, Jeb Bush,” CNN’s MJ Lee reported. “The former Florida governor and heir to a political dynasty came to Boulder badly in need of of a jolt to energize his stalled campaign.”
But “it was Rubio’s night,” Lee concluded.
“Bush launched a ponderous and predictable attack on Rubio, for his poor attendance record in the Senate,” The Economist observed. “Rubio responded with a put-down that was swift and deft—he noted that Bush never used to care about such things, and was pretending to now merely for political reasons.”
“It is hard to see him coming back into contention now,” the magazine editorialized of Bush.
“Rubio’s response was so effective – and the impact in putting Bush on his heels so immediate – that the senator’s spokesman triumphantly tweeted it out a full hour before the debate’s conclusion,” The Huffington Post‘s Scott Conroy and Sam Stein reported. “And, in the moment, it was hard not to feel sympathy for Bush, his once promising campaign appearing to hit a new low in front of a live audience assumed to be in the tens of millions.”
“It was what the political pros call ‘a moment’ – something that lasts for more than one news cycle and helps define the event in the public consciousness – which is what all of the debaters are seeking,” John Cassidy of The New Yorker opined. “In attacking his fellow Floridian, Bush was clearly looking for a moment to change the narrative of his sagging campaign. But because Rubio was sharper and better prepared – he had clearly come with the McCain answer in his pocket, in case Bush attacked him – the moment turned out to be his.”
Which raises the question … why did Bush’s team telegraph its line of attack against Rubio?
“Never mark your ambush with flashing lights and traffic cones,” one Florida politico told Buzzfeed‘s McKay Coppins. “Everyone in Florida politics heard this attack was coming since the weekend, and Marco was absolutely ready for it.”
As pro-freedom, pro-free market fiscal conservatives, we have no use for either Bush or Rubio. Both are pure GOP “establishment,” status quo politicians who would do absolutely nothing to reorient the trajectory of the federal government.
In fact as we noted in our earlier coverage of Rubio’s abysmal voting record, our beef isn’t with the votes he’s missed – it’s with many of the ones he has cast (including the deciding vote for U.S. president Barack Obama’s crony capitalist trade deal).
Perhaps if Bush would’ve fared better if he had blasted him on that rather than telegraphing his punch on the votes Rubio missed.
He couldn’t do that, though. Like Rubio, Bush supports “Obamatrade.”