When Marco Rubio cleaned Jeb Bush’s clock in the CNBC “crap sandwich” (there I am quoting Reince Priebus) he had this to say:
The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.
It is pretty obvious that the genius behind the strategy of attacking Marco Rubio as a way of helping Jeb Bush is the head of the
Can Barely Get My Ass Off the Floor Right To Rise super PAC that is supporting Jeb Bush and it’s “leader,” a long time political leech named Mike Murphy. Right To Rise is behind the extraordinarily lame Twitter account called @IsMarcoWorking.
To quote a colleague, the “missed vote” attack had all the marks of a Mike Murphy hit: very inside baseball and focused on process. To that I would add, lame, telegraphed advance, and eventually stuffed up the luckless candidate’s butt. If you want to see how Mike Murphy wages attacks, read this post-mortem of the Rick Lazio vs Hillary Clinton contest for US Senate.
Even though the campaign and the super PAC aren’t allowed to “coordinate” it is a lot less than coincidental that the “Rubio missed votes” meme was being pushed by Right To Rise a couple of days before Bush uncorked that flopper during the debate.
What Murphy won’t be able to do is strategize with Bush, because federal election law prohibits super PACs from directly coordinating with campaigns.That is no small thing for a GOP strategist known over the years as “a candidate whisperer” who has been close to Bush since 1997, when he worked on his campaign for Florida governor.
“I guess the calculation is that he has spent so much time with Bush there is no need for direct communication,” said Dan Schnur, who worked with Murphy on [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ]’s 2000 presidential campaign.
“Mike is a friend,” Bush said in an e-mail. “He is smart and funny. He is also one of the more creative guys I know.”
Now, the next slow-moving freight train of sleaze has been telegraphed. Someone unfriendly to the Bush campaign has given US News a copy of a Jeb Bush campaign plan that includes Iowa and New Hampshire campaign strategies,
wishful thinking internal polls, and a play for attacking Marco Rubio.
While the slides released to the press highlight Bush’s Sunshine State endorsements and Rubio’s lack of experience, another page for donor edification gets dirtier.
It’s titled “Marco Is A Risky Bet,” and it bullet-points Rubio’s “misuse of state party credit cards, taxpayer funds and ties to scandal-tarred former Congressman David Rivera.”
When Rubio was a state lawmaker, he used the state party credit card for personal expenses, a decision he later called a mistake. In 2005, he and Rivera jointly purchased a home that later faced foreclosure.
Another bullet point says Rubio’s “closeness with Norman Braman, who doubles as personal benefactor[,] raises major ethical questions.”
Braman, a billionaire auto dealer, is expected to pour $10 million into Rubio’s White House endeavor, The New York Times reports. He’s also paid Rubio’s wife to oversee his charitable work.
The Bush team also mocks Rubio’s “tomorrow versus yesterday” argument as one that would be “widely ridiculed by media” should he run against the first potential female president.
The most cryptic slight is left for last: “Those who have looked into Marco’s background in the past have been concerned with what they have found.”
A Bush aide says that line refers to concerns Mitt Romney’s team unearthed when they vetted Rubio for vice president in 2012.
A couple of years ago, BuzzFeed’s Mckay Coppins outlined the personal attacks being directed at Rubio as it became obvious that he would be a candidate for president:
[mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]’s straight line to the Republican presidential nomination seemed more certain than ever Sunday, as the Florida senator cemented his role as the face of immigration reform — and the future of the Republican Party — with a marathon round of Sunday talk show appearances that felt like a victory lap.
But even as the hype surrounding his ascent reaches new heights, one nagging line of inquiry quietly being pursued by pundits, politicos, and journalists from Washington to Miami serves as a persistent, if unspoken, drag on Marcomentum.
The question: What element of his time in Florida politics will come back to haunt him?
The enduring notion that the “Republican savior” may have feet of clay has followed him since his arrival on the national stage three years ago. It’s been a subject of gossip among the chattering Miami politicos at The Biltmore, a talking point pushed by bloodthirsty Democrats eager to stop his ascent, and a constant source of frustration in the Senator’s orbit.
Weighing in at 555 pages, the American Bridge book on Rubio is much longer than the other files the group published last summer on Mitt Romney’s potential running mates, and its overarching characterization is that of a corrupt politician, cynically darting from one loosely held policy position to another, reckless with his own money as well as his party’s, and ambitious to a fault.
The contents of the file rely largely on partisan summaries of his decade-long voting record in the Florida House of Representatives, as well as an exhaustive detailing of Rubio’s ethics scandals — including, most famously, his use of the Florida Republican Party’s credit card to buy groceries, pay for repairs to the family minivan, and purchase airline tickets for his wife. (Rubio, whose office declined to comment for this story, has denied any wrongdoing and said he personally paid for all charges that weren’t related to party business.)
While the book certainly contains plenty of ammunition for Rubio’s opponents, it lacks the sort of smoking gun that could end a politician’s career, and much of its contents aired in Rubio’s hard-fought Senate race. And yet, the “American Bridge book” has become a kind of talisman in political circles: a common retort to the conventional wisdom that Rubio is the inevitable Republican nominee.
It is a sad state of affairs when even Gawker dismisses your attacks.
The Bush attacks seem to be based as much in pique as having any real tactical advantage. It isn’t like knocking Rubio out of the race is going to help Bush. And if they have to knock him out of the race via personal attacks and floating unfounded rumors then it is really difficult to see how it helps. The most diplomatic thing that you can say about this rank douchebaggery is that it is sort of a “dog in the manger” strategy where the Bush people can’t get the nomination but they want to keep other from it, too. But they are going to keep coming because of Mike Murphy, the independent nature of Right To Rise, and the plausible deniability that the “no coordination” rule gives him:
But among Mr. Bush’s top aides and his super PAC, there is growing contempt for Mr. Rubio and a desire to attack him.
Danny Diaz, Mr. Bush’s hard-charging campaign manager, has told people he would like to accelerate the assault on Mr. Rubio. At a briefing earlier this month for congressional chiefs of staff whose bosses are backing Mr. Bush, Mr. Diaz bragged about the size of their opposition research file on the senator, and said they were prepared to begin a full-scale attack, according to a presidential campaign veteran who was briefed on the conversation and requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Mike Murphy, the longtime adviser to Mr. Bush who now controls the super PAC, has told people he would like to go after Mr. Rubio but does not want to do so immediately after the debate because it could reinforce a perception of desperation.
So brace yourselves for a new wave of attacks on Senator Rubio. Prepare to hear about credit cards and foreclosed properties and spousal employment. Prepare to hear about alleged sexual improprieties and when you hear them you know the source: the Jeb Bush campaign and Mike Murphy’s super PAC with which it will not be acting in coordination.