Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, told Breitbart News exclusively that he is better suited than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to take on GOP frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—in large part because Rubio has failed to stand firmly behind his open-borders positions, which Bush made clear are more leftist than his own.
“Marco’s a friend but Americans are looking for a leader,” Bush said in an exclusive email interview after the most recent debate in Charleston, South Carolina, when asked why he’s better suited than Rubio to take on the two rabble-rousing conservatives Trump and Cruz running away with the election right now.
“I was the governor of Florida for eight years. When you’re governor, you have to make tough decisions and solve problems. You can’t just file an amendment and call it success,” he said.
In recent days, more damaging information has continued to drip out about Rubio—preventing the first-term Floridian U.S. Senator from gaining significant traction on the campaign trail behind Cruz and Trump. These issues included questions about a staffer involved in the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill Rubio championed alongside Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the now-indicted-on-federal-corruption-charges Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
“Marco Rubio made a risky decision three years ago during high-profile immigration talks: He hired as his chief negotiator a corporate attorney who represented clients with a direct stake in the legislation,” CNN’s Manu Raju reported last week leading up to the Charleston debate, noting that the decision reflected serious questions over a conflict of interest.
“The move surprised some on Capitol Hill, given the potential of a conflict-of-interest over hiring Florida lawyer Enrique Gonzalez, a friend of Rubio’s for roughly two decades. “Late in the talks, Gonzalez inserted narrowly tailored provisions in the bill that could have helped clients he had represented, including universities, cruise liners and media companies, according to a review of emails and interviews with multiple sources involved in the negotiations.”
Shortly thereafter, BuzzFeed dropped another bombshell revelation about Rubio: He pushed to stop deportations of illegal alien minors, whom the left refers to as “DREAMers,” before even President Barack Obama sought to.
“A year before Gang of 8, the 2013 immigration effort that has become again a flashpoint in the Republican presidential campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio picked up the phone to talk immigration,” BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo reported.
Then, in early 2012, he spoke to Gaby Pacheco, a DREAMer activist who gained prominence after taking part in a four-month walk from Miami to Washington to bring attention to undocumented immigrants under the threat of deportation. Rubio’s message, Pacheco says, was that they could work together to craft an alternative to the failed DREAM Act: legalization, but not citizenship, for undocumented youth brought to the country as children.
Pacheco, of course, has become a focal point in the pro-amnesty community. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill and later appeared in studio in mid-2015 alongside Fusion and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos in Miami’s suburbs as Ramos challenged now 11-time New York Times bestselling author Ann Coulter as she rolled out her new book, Adios America.
Coulter’s book has become a rallying point for conservatives concerned about national sovereignty in 2016, and she has become one of Trump’s biggest supporters and has always been one of Rubio’s biggest critics.
During that appearance there—alongside Ramos—Pacheco confronted Coulter on live television, asking her for a “hug.” Now, it turns out, that even before Pacheco worked to help Rubio and his Democratic Party friends push the Senate amnesty bill, Rubio consulted her to try to beat Obama to the punch when it came to granting amnesty to the DREAMers.
Obama, of course, ended up winning that footrace, using an executive action—one of many he’s used on immigration, this time the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—to grant amnesty and work permits to them.
Rubio, meanwhile, has steadfastly and repeatedly refused to say he would end DACA on day-one as the commander-in-chief, while most other GOP candidates have made the promise to do so. Rubio does say the program must end, but his staff have made clear he supports allowing it to continue until Congress passes a similar plan to grant those people legislative amnesty. That is the same position as the one President Obama holds.
What’s more, in recent days, Rubio has significantly struggled when pressed on immigration. The issue came up in the recent GOP debate in Charleston, and Rubio dodged questions from Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on the matter. Then, when pressed further on the issue on Meet The Press on Sunday by NBC’s Chuck Todd, Rubio doubled down on his support for granting amnesty to every illegal alien in America—including criminals, with the exception of those convicted of felonies.
Then on Monday, Rubio dodged a question when asked about his support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. It’s worth noting that Rubio is the only current GOP candidate for president who supports granting illegal aliens not just amnesty through legal status, but a full-blown pathway to citizenship.
“The question about ‘Whether you give citizenship to people’ is not a yes or no answer,” Rubio said at a town hall in Iowa on Monday.
Bush, meanwhile, tells Breitbart News that because of all this and more, it’s clear that Rubio will never emerge as the formidable establishment-backed candidate almost everyone in the establishment in Washington, D.C. power circles and in mainstream media suites in Manhattan thinks he will be.
Bush also made clear that Rubio is further left than he is on immigration—and criticized Rubio on his foreign policy ambivalence, as well. Bush did support the Gang of Eight bill, he said, because he wanted Congress to succeed on immigration—but it’s not the policy he would craft if he were the driving force. That’s a stark contrast to Rubio, who has never once repudiated the bill he championed—and has actually made clear that he still supports everything in his amnesty bill with Schumer, except he’d split it up into pieces rather than doing the exact same thing in one big bill.
“When it comes to ‘Gang of Eight’ bill — Marco asked me to support it,” Bush told Breitbart News.
I put forth, in my book Immigration Wars, a different plan that had a path to legalized status, not a path to citizenship, but I wanted Congress to actually fix a problem for once so I was willing to get behind his effort. Then, when the political heat was turned on, he cut and ran. He did the same thing when it came to military action in Syria, siding with Rand Paul rather than enforcing the red line.
Bush argues that this is the reason why Rubio isn’t the answer for GOP voters—and while some may disagree with him on policy solutions, he’s always going to be clear where he stands and be firm in his position.
“With all that is wrong with Washington, we need a president willing to take on the tough challenges, and use conservative principles to fix a few big things that are holding this country back. I have a proven conservative record of doing just that in Florida,” Bush said. “The American people will always know where I stand.”
Bush also told Breitbart News, when asked specifically why he’s better suited than Rubio to take on Trump and Cruz—and then if he eventually wins the GOP nomination, to take on Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders—that while Rubio is a “back bench senator” squabbling over meaningless amendments to worthless legislation in the Senate, he’s an experienced governor with a history of leading.
“Well, like I said last week, there were two back-bench Senators arguing over who flip-flopped when on amendments that never even passed. It was very disconnected from what real people are facing,” Bush said when asked why he’s better suited than Rubio to lead the party.
Incomes are down. ISIS has a caliphate the size of Indiana who wants to do us harm. Americans want a leader who can solve problems and give everyone a chance to achieve earned success. That’s what I’ll do as president. I have a proven record of conservative reform and have the leadership skills needed to beat Hillary Clinton in the fall.
There’s some reason to believe there’s a comeback in Bush, despite his struggles on the campaign trail so far this cycle.
The younger brother and son of two former Presidents of the United States has now earned the endorsement of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—important in South Carolina, which has previously served as the “firewall” for the Bush operation when George W. Bush was running for President in 2000—and he has shot back up over Rubio in some, but not all, recent polling.
The most recent Reuters tracking poll, out on Jan. 15, has Bush back in third place at 9.4 percent behind Trump’s 38.2 percent first place spot and Cruz’s 16.7 percent second place spot. Rubio has slipped to fifth place at 7.6 percent, behind the fourth place Dr. Ben Carson who has 7.9 percent. An NH1 poll in New Hampshire out before the Charleston debate showed the same trend, with Trump in first with 31.7 percent and Bush in second place with 11.9 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is nipping at his heels with 11.8 percent, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is at 11 percent. Cruz is at 9.7 percent in that poll, and Rubio is all the way back in fifth place at 8.9 percent.
Meanwhile, a pro-Bush Super PAC has plastered airwaves with anti-Rubio advertising. Its two most recent ads are particularly brutal, with one mocking Rubio’s Italian high-heeled boots—and the other portraying him as a weathervane who changes positions with the wind.
Bush, in his interview with Breitbart News, also pointed prospective voters to his website, urging them to read his plans for the nation on all issues for themselves.
“I have laid out the most detailed, conservative plans for addressing the challenges we face. Voters can go to Jeb2016.com and see exactly what I will do as Commander-in-Chief,” Bush said. “When voters compare my record, and the plans I’ve put forth to others on the stage, I’m confident we will be successful.”