Jeb Bush had the opportunity to take the attack that he and his super PAC have been running against Sen. Marco Rubio to his ex-mentee’s face Wednesday night. As with most things for Jeb, it didn’t go well. Specifically: Rubio stuffed it in his face.
The two alleged longtime friends had not gone directly after each other in the first two debates. But Bush is under incredible pressure to show his backers something. So he looked Rubio in the eye and told him to start showing up for work.
“When you signed up for this, this is a six-year term,” Bush said, before referring to the Senate schedule as a “French workweek.” (France is the worst!) He continued: “Just resign and let somebody else take the job. There are a lot of people who are living paycheck to paycheck in Florida.”
Rubio was ready. “Over the last few weeks I listened to Jeb, he said you’re modeling your campaign after John McCain, and will launch a serious comeback like he did by fighting hard in places like New Hampshire. You know how many votes John McCain missed? Jeb, let me tell you, I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record.” And then he put in the dagger: “The only reason you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position. Someone convinced you attacking me is going to help you.”
What made Rubio’s retort so effective was that it was exactly correct. Bush doesn’t care about how many votes Rubio misses. Bush is smart enough to understand that Rubio has not missed any roll calls where he would have cast a tie-breaking vote. This is the sort of thing that overpaid political consultants come up with when they can’t think of anything else, and when their candidate is bad at politics.