Cold War Between 2016 GOP Rivals Bush and Rubio Heating Up

17 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Campaign burn rate: Is Jeb Bush spending money too fast?.

There once was mutual public deference. Washington – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump once again provoked a tit-for-tat row on Friday by saying former president George Bush must share some of the blame for the September 11, 2001, attacks. But that has eroded as the Florida Republicans battling for the presidential nomination have come to see the other as the main threat to lofty ambitions: Bush claims the party establishment’s mantle, Rubio wants be the party’s fresh national face.

Trump, who has made no secret of his dislike of the Bush family and has frequently baited rival candidate Jeb Bush, George’s brother, made the comment in a television interview. “He was president, okay? Rubio says it’s “time to turn the page,” a reference that strikes as hard at Bush’s long family legacy as it does at Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. The rise of GOP outsiders such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson has increased the stakes for Bush and Rubio as they try to become the mainstream alternative.

Rubio may be slowly rising in the polls, but his third quarter filing revealed a campaign that’s also out-manned by many of its rivals in the early-voting states. Trump’s outburst was similar to his comment last summer that Republican Senator John McCain was not a hero because he had been captured during the Vietnam War. His staff is largely concentrated in Washington, with just a small umbrella of on-the-ground, early-state operatives — and he’s already at a disadvantage because he hasn’t invested the time in early-state visits that some of his opponents have.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, was piloting a fighter jet on a bombing mission over Hanoi when it was shot down, and he spent five and a half years in a prisoner-of-war camp. George Bush generally receives high marks from Americans for his response to the 9/11 attacks and for preventing another attack on American soil during his eight years in the White House. * E-mail your opinion to [email protected] and we will consider it for publication or use our Facebook and Twitter pages to comment on our stories. It’s part of the mantra Bush has repeated since the Republicans’ second debate in California a month ago, when Rubio won praise for staying above the fray. He has since drawn nearly even with Bush in national polls, although both remain in the high single digits. “We’ve got a president that the American people supported based on the fact that he was an eloquent guy,” Bush said in Iowa last week. “And he had nothing in his background that would suggest he could lead.” Though describing Obama, it’s a slight to Rubio.

A longtime New Hampshire operative who believes Rubio could do well there added that the senator has “missed a lot of opportunities over the year where he could’ve been here more regularly.” “Early on and over the summer, when he came here, he’d have like one public event,” the operative said. “Rubio people might feel pretty good because he got that good debate performance. But the newly released campaign finance reports indicate it could be a liability if fundraising slacks further,” notes Politico’s Marc Caputo this morning. He delivers a compelling story about his parents’ flight from Cuba and his working class background, but he has been in the Senate less than five years and has missed much of its business this year while campaigning for president. Evidence of the tension between the Florida politicians was on display Thursday when Rubio’s campaign, minutes after the Bush organization announced raising $13.4 million in the last quarter, boasted it had more cash on hand.

If you haven’t put together the organization, if you haven’t spent time laying the foundation for undecided voters to make decisions, when you have challenging moments or bad moments, you can’t sustain any of the ground you made up.” The quarterly report released Thursday shows Rubio’s doing just fine in terms of cash-on-hand at the moment — he’s sitting on $9.7 million cash-on-hand for the primary season, trailing only Ben Carson and Bush in cash heading into the last three months of 2015. (Frontrunner Donald Trump has pledged to primarily self-finance his campaign). But about $1 million of Rubio’s cash cannot be accessed unless he wins the GOP nomination, a point Bush campaign spokesman Tim Miller pounced on via Twitter. And at a recent summit for donors in Las Vegas, the Rubio campaign told the group that it had set a fundraising target of $15 million for the next quarter.

And Rubio is hampered in his hunt for home state dollars by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who released a bundler list Thursday that’s studded with Florida heavyweights. There’s little margin for error for a candidate who isn’t cash-flush — after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada vote in February, there’s a burst of Southern primaries on March 1, and then the do-or-die Florida primary on March 15 — a map that will require a more vigorous fundraising operation than Rubio has showed so far. Hopes have not come to pass that rivals could be chased from the field with Bush’s mammoth fundraising effort in the first half of the year — yielding more than $100 million for his campaign and the super PAC supporting him. Those challengers have ridden dissatisfaction with the government to a lead in national and early state polls with four months before Iowa leads off the 2016 voting. POLITICO reported earlier this week that one of those highly sought-after big fish, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is leaning increasingly toward supporting the Florida senator.

The connections between Rubio and Bush go back to the late 1990s when Bush, then governor, contributed $50 to Rubio’s campaign for a West Miami commission seat. When Rubio became the first Cuban-American to ascend to Florida House speaker, Bush gave him a sword to remind him to stay true to his conservative values. “I can’t think back on a time when I’ve ever been prouder to be a Republican, Marco,” Bush said then. Rubio in his memoir, “An American Son,” praised Bush’s “creativity and daring.” “Jeb is my friend,” Rubio told reporters in Florida when asked about Bush’s jabs. “I have tremendous respect for him as a person and for what he did for Florida as governor.”

Only one of them is likely to make it through the early primaries and emerge as a contender around which the GOP establishment can rally. “They’re both competing for the same donors, and both are felling pressure to show progress. That’s why Jeb Bush Jr. on Thursday took a shot at Rubio’s Senate record, saying that the latter is missing so many floor votes by running for president that he should “drop out or do something.”

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