Forget Donald Trump. That’s bigger game that has to be taken down later. Right now, Jeb Bush knows he won’t survive long if he doesn’t take care of his Marco Rubio problem, and fast.
In the last 24 hours, Bush has signaled his strategy for dealing with his former protege and Florida “buddy,” who is edging by him in the polls and threatens to start gobbling up fundraising money Bush wants for himself. He’s going to take Rubio call him the worst epithet one Republican can call another: Barack Obama.
What everyone forgets about the sunny-seeming Bushes is that they play to win and they play for keeps. And with well north of $100 million in the bank, Bush stands ready to try to crush anyone in his way. Marco is first.
Rubio, at 9.5 percent, has moved into fourth place in the latest RealClearPolitics average of national polls, a half point ahead of the fifth place Bush.
So, appearing on the MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Thursday, Bush suggested Rubio lacks the experience to be president, just like the 2008 Democratic nominee.
“It’s not known,” Bush said when asked whether Rubio has the “leadership skills” to fix what ails the country. “Barack Obama didn’t end up having them and he won an election based on the belief that people had that he could and he didn’t even try,” Bush said.
Bush asserted that he, unlike fellows like Rubio and Obama, is tested.
“I think I have the leadership skills to fix things and that’s my strength and that’s what I talk about,” Bush said. “Marco was a member of the (Florida) House of Representatives when I was Governor and he followed my lead and I’m proud of that.”
Bush had broached the Marco-is-Obama theme Wednesday during an appearance on CNN.
“Look, we had a president who came in and said the same kind of thing — new and improved, hope and change — and he didn’t have the leadership skills to fix things,” Bush said.
Bush has also been pushing a proposal to dock the pay of lawmakers who miss votes, a plan interpreted as a broadside at Rubio — who misses votes.
“Is his voting record a problem?” a reporter asked Bush of Rubio during an New Hampshire press conference Wednesday.
This piece first appeared in PoliZette.
“I think if you had a dock in pay strategy, you’d probably get more attendance,” Bush said.
You might remember another candidate who stood accused of being frequently AWOL from the various legislatures he belonged to: Barack Obama.
Of course, Bush doesn’t want to seem vindictive while he’s trying to steamroller a man who has been described as his dear pal and protege. “We’re close friends and I admire him greatly,” Mr. Bush said in New Hampshire.
It was left to Wednesday Trump, who was also campaigning in New Hampshire, to inject a note of typically blunt realism into the situation.
“They hate each other,” Trump said. “They hate more than anyone in this room hates their neighbor. It’s political bull(expletive).”