By Victoria Venable
Elm Staff Writer
After months of still water, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is finally facing stronger currents from Republican rivals calling his financial history and congressional attendance record into question.
As Rubio’s polling numbers increase, so does the frequency of attacks. While most criticisms have been grounded in relevant concerns like a history of Federal Election Commission misreporting and Congressional attendance, there are the occasional impertinent jabs that are more reminiscent of a middle school feud than a presidential race. I’m looking at you, Donald Trump.
In an interview with Bloomberg Politics, Trump thought it was germane to declare his distaste for Rubio’s looks. He said, “I think I’m better looking than he is.” What else doesn’t Trump like about his opponent Rubio? Apparently he is “too sweaty” and “too dependent on water.” Dang humans and their need to hydrate. Clearly, someone who regularly drinks water is not fit to run this country.
That being said, let’s move on from those shenanigans. Another vocal critic in the GOP is Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. The two Floridians butted heads publically at the most recent CNBC debate. Bush used this venue to confront Rubio about his poor attendance in the U.S. Senate.
Up until this moment, Bush has always stopped short of directly naming Rubio in his campaign. He has not been critical of the Senator perhaps because the two are Florida neighbors, former colleagues, and supposedly old friends. In fact, the two rival campaigns and candidates have managed to maintain a level of civility and respect in the race thus far. As the race speeds up and the finish line comes into view, Bush no longer has the luxury of sidestepping Rubio, particularly since Rubio has been out-polling and out-performing Bush consistently, according to Politico News.
Rubio responded to the attack by highlighting this exact fact. He confidently, almost as if he had a speechwriter craft the response, pointed out that Bush had never raised concerns about Sen. John McCain’s voting record and then declared, “The only reason you are doing it now is because we’re running for the same position.” Rubio went on to say, “Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
Is he wrong? Absolutely not. It is clear that Bush brought up the record because he can see that Rubio is blocking his lane. Maybe he read the numerous reports that predicted that supporters of Scott Walker, who has suspended his campaign, will naturally gravitate to support Rubio, not Bush. Maybe he realized that in every televised debate so far, he has gotten the least or second to least talk time. Maybe he’s realizing that Florida isn’t big enough for the two of them.
The point is, Bush feels threatened by Rubio and he should. Even after this Senator-faux-pas was highlighted on national television, Rubio is still beating him in the polls and has been called the winner of this exchange, according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, Bush’s debate performance is consistently labeled as “lackluster” and “disappointing.”
Is Bush wrong with his criticisms? In his accusations, Bush said, “When you signed up for this, this was a six year term. And you should be showing up for work.” As much as I love to say that people with the last name of Bush are wrong, maybe he has a point here. He went on to explain in interviews with CNN that he never meant this as an attack and even defended Rubio from Trumps petty criticisms, calling Rubio “capable” and “talented.”
Even with a valid point, Bush comes out as the weaker candidate in this situation. Here we see how sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are a party favorite with a presidential name or a young candidate with a bad attendance rate and a low credit score. Sometimes, people will side with the best speaker and the one with the last word.