Jeb Bush’s campaign is taking a more aggressive and negative tone against Marco Rubio, his chief rival for the establishment mantle in the race for Republican presidential nomination.
For months the Bush and Rubio campaigns have sparred behind the scenes or with veiled or soft criticisms of one another.
But with Wednesday’s debate highlighting Bush’s struggle and Rubio’s rise, the Bush campaign has begun to move beyond attacks on Rubio’s Senate voting record and relative inexperience into far more personal territory as it seeks to keep the up-and-comer at bay.
“They don’t want to let Rubio get too far out ahead or build too much momentum,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “He had a ground-breaking moment at that last debate and I think they’d like to cut his knees out before the next one.”
Bush’s attack against Rubio for abandoning his Senate work for the campaign trail backfired at Wednesday’s debate, as the junior senator came prepared to shut down Bush on the issue.
But it turns out, the Senate voting complaint was one of the Bush campaign's milder attacks on Rubio.