An all-out assault on Sen. Marco Rubio by groups aligned with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is angering GOP senators, who fear it could hurt the party’s chances of capturing the White House.
Right to Rise, a pro-Bush super PAC, has spent an estimated $20 million against Rubio. It is expected to launch a new ad this weekend featuring a clip of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who endorsed Rubio Tuesday, fumbling to name one of his accomplishments.
One senator who has endorsed Bush, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is urging the PAC to rein in its attacks.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who is neutral in the presidential primary, also called for Bush allies to hold their fire.
Another neutral senator, who requested anonymity to comment frankly, criticized Right to Rise’s tactics.
“A lot of them feel that Rubio, one, has a legitimate shot at the nomination and, two, he has the best chance as of today of winning in November,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign.