Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio might have once considered each other mentor and protégé but the two GOP presidential hopefuls have been anything but friendly in the last few months. Now, Rubio is fuming over a new ad sponsored by Bush’s super PAC that accused the senator of shirking his congressional responsibilities in order to pursue fundraising opportunities.
The Bush Right to Rise PAC is on track to spend $1.4 million in the crucial early-voting state of Iowa over the next two weeks. One of his latest ads directly blasts Rubio, claiming that he favors the campaign trail to doing his job as a senator. “Politics first: that’s the Rubio way,” says the narrator in the ad, which then blasts Rubio for being absent at a November 18 hearing in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
According to the ad, Rubio was actually fundraising in California on that day. In response, Rubio’s campaign has dismissed the ad as “intellectual dishonesty” for failing to mention that the senator had attended a similar briefing the day before. “As a member of the intelligence committee, I have access to intelligence information that isn’t even shared with others that are not on the committee,” Rubio claimed during an appearance in Clinton, Iowa.
Rubio then fired back, disparaging Bush for his aggressive strategy. “Millions and millions of dollars of spending have not changed [Bush's] fortunes and he’s become increasingly negative in his attacks,” he said. “This is not new.” His campaign officials have echoed the senator’s statements, blaming Right to Rise for not fact-checking their advertisement.
Bush is not the only GOP presidential contender to criticize Rubio for his spotty Senate attendance record. Rubio has defended himself by pointing to the cases of other senators who have run for president and have also spent an increased amount of time on the campaign trail as a response.