ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, tells reporters here that he hasn’t seen a campaign presentation slide from his rival, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, that called him a “risky bet.”
“I haven’t seen it,” Rubio said when asked for his reaction to the Bush campaign slide by Breitbart News.
Again, guys it’s part of a strategic decision they’ve made and they have a right to make it. I just don’t think it’s smart for Republicans to do Hillary Clinton’s job for her. One of the reasons I think we lost in 2012 is Republicans attacking each other. It weakened the eventual nominee. But I can’t control other people’s campaigns—I can control mine. Mine is going to continue to be about the future of America and if there are policy differences between the candidates, we look forward to discussing those.
The slide show, leaked from the Bush campaign, is extraordinarily aggressive in criticizing Rubio. It attacks—and casts serious doubt on—Rubio’s record, questioning whether he has the chops to win a presidential election.
This press availability here in Northwest Iowa is the first time Rubio has talked about the story. It comes after a speech to a raucous crowd where Rubio, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also spoke. Rubio received a standing ovation at the end of his speech, which focused on some of the core tenets of his campaign and his vision for the country.
When another reporter asked Rubio about one of the points on the slide—specifically the charge from the Bush campaign that “Marco’s ‘tomorrow versus yesterday’ argument will be widely ridiculed by the media while running against ‘first woman president’”—he dismissed the criticism.
“I just think the Democrats and the political left in America have run out of ideas,” Rubio said.
Their ideas were never any good, but they’re really outdated now. Their answer to every problem is raise a new tax and create a new government program. That’s their answer to everything. That’s an old, outdated idea that doesn’t work anymore—it never worked well. It’s been a disaster for a century. I look forward to, God willing, being the nominee and being able to make that argument.
Rubio also said he wasn’t sure why Bush made the decision to come after him in the recent CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado.
“I don’t know,” Rubio said when asked why he thinks Bush attacked him.
People make decisions in their campaign as I said at the debate. Obviously, someone has convinced him that attacking me is going to help him. I don’t agree with that strategy but he obviously has a right to run his own campaign. I’m going to continue to focus on what matters. I think that, as I said I’m not running against any other people running for president. I’m running for president, and I think we have a very talented field as I said here tonight.
Ultimately, Rubio has moved into a prime position ahead of the 2016 primaries–essentially becoming the 2016 GOP establishment frontrunner in recent weeks, replacing Bush.
When asked by another reporter why he said he thinks someone “convinced” Bush to attack him—and whether he thinks Bush is “sincere” in criticizing him—Rubio said he thinks that “someone in his campaign has convinced him that the way forward is to attack me and so that’s why they’re doing it.”
“That’s fine, everybody makes their own decisions guys—I’m going to focus on my campaign,” Rubio said. “You’re not going to hear me speak bad about him or anyone else running on the Republican side. If there are policy differences, we’ll discuss them.”