Remember when former Gov. Jeb Bush and his young protege now Sen. Marco Rubio were friends? That was back when both men started the process of winning the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination and things have changed big time.
But as Rubio bested Bush in the last three national polls, now the Bush camp feels that they must move on Rubio. Twice in two days, Bush publicly sought to draw a distinction between himself and Rubio, whose political star rose under Bush’s governorship.
“Marco was a member of the House of Representatives when I was governor and he followed my lead and I’m proud of that,” Bush said in an interview on MSNBC on Thursday.
“It’s not known,” Bush added, whether Rubio has the leadership skills needed to be president. Bush pointed to President Obama as an example of what happens when the country elects an inexperienced first-term Senator.
Rubio has so far held his fire but don’t expect that he won’t fight back hard. For the junior Senator it is all about timing something that thus he has proven to be very good at doing. He will hit Bush hard and both camps know the gloves are coming off soon.
Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina dominate and the non politician element of the race has become a true game changer. So, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pulled out of the race the early winner was Rubio who had pulled ahead of Bush as the establishment candidates began to pick each other off one by one.
“It looks like Bush has recognized that Rubio is the biggest threat to his campaign in terms of solidifying the establishment vote, so he’s trying to big-foot Marco,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, who spoke to The Hill newspaper this week.
We know that Bush has raised more money than any other candidate while at the same putting together an impressive campaign team with people on the ground in all 50 states. He has also scored countless endorsements. However, the conservative base has so far tuned him out, and he has not been the force in the race that many believed he’d be.
That was the opening that Rubio was waiting for and he has made the most of the Bush weakness. We all know that Rubio, has long been the darling of the conservative pundit class. But it’s taken him months to scratch his way up to this point in the polls, and overcoming the Bush machine remains a daunting task.
In this week’s poll commissioned and conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce it was the third straight time that Donald Trump has been on top of a poll in the Sunshine State. Trump is at 25 percent, 11 points more than the second-place candidate, Sen. Rubio, who has 14 percent. Former Gov. Bush is at 13 percent, Carly Fiorina at 11 percent, Ben Carson at 9 percent, and Ted Cruz at 6 percent.
Rubio will need money to battle Bush and there is still plenty out there but he will have to play rough with old mentor if he wants cash from billionaires like the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson. Rubio can get the money he simply has to make a compelling case that he can beat both Bush and whomever the Democrats run.
So yes Marco and Jeb are about to take their relationship in another direction and it won’t be pretty.