Rubio relishes the Jeb attacks

November 11, 2015

Florida Senator Marco Rubio got such a media bounce for scolding mentor Jeb Bush during October’s CNBC debate that his campaign couldn’t contain itself when it learned that the former Florida governor would escalate his attacks on Rubio.

The New York Times reported Monday night that the Super PAC supporting Bush, Right to Rise, was prepping a $20 million onslaught against his former protégé to try to keep Bush as the favorite of establishment Republicans.

Team Rubio pounced.

Timed for release at midnight, Rubio’s campaign manager Terry Sullivan sent out a fundraising solicitation taking advantage of the news in an e-mail with the subject heading, “This is a Joyful Campaign???” a dig at Bush’s assertion that he planned to be positive during the primaries.

He accused the group behind Bush of trying to damage Rubio’s reputation, rather than simply show a contrast on the issues. “And they’re bragging about that?” Sullivan wrote. How is that the kind of ‘joyful’ campaign that Jeb claimed he wanted to run?!?!” The e-mail called on supporters to donate $25 to help them fight back.

Sullivan’s e-mail noted that the Bush team would take aim at Rubio’s more extremist views – his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest. He was incredulous that Bush faulted Rubio for being “too pro-life.”

“It’s something we’d expect from Hillary and the mainstream media, but the fact that the Republican establishment believes this is what they need to do to take down Marco is astonishing,” said Sullivan.

This morning, the strategist running Rubio’s New Hampshire operation, Jim Merrill, also posted on Facebook:

“Sad: When your Super PAC can’t make the positive case for your formerly “joyful”, now floundering, candidacy, so instead plans to spend $20 million to “destroy the reputation” of one of your fellow Republicans. Somewhere Hillary Clinton is waiting and smiling.”

What’s more, the campaign was quick to circulate a video showing Bush gushing about Rubio and his promise. All prior to the 2016 presidential race took shape, of course.

While Rubio has said publicly that he doesn’t plan to say a negative word about Bush, it’s clear that the gloves are still off.

For his part, Bush may reevaluate his strategy next month. His finance team is inviting donors who have raised $25,000 or more for his campaign to meet on December 5 in Miami to show them the city he loves and tell them, according to an invitation sent this morning by finance director Heather Larrison, “in his own words, ‘how we are going to win this damn thing!'”

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