New York Times
By Ashley Parker
January 12, 2016
The messages coming out of the political world of Jeb Bush could not be more different.
For weeks, the Bush campaign, led by Jeb Bush himself, has used the candidacy of Donald J. Trump to argue that Mr. Bush is a responsible alternative, a serious leader for serious times.
And then there is Right to Rise, the “super PAC” supporting Mr. Bush, which has begun a furious advertising offensive against Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, accusing him of flip-flopping on immigration.
“He ran for Senate saying he opposed amnesty,” says the narrator of the 30-second spot, called “Vane,” which features Mr. Rubio atop a weather vane, swiveling back and forth. “Then he flipped, and worked with liberal Chuck Schumer to co-author the path to citizenship. He threatened to vote against it, and then voted for it.”
“Marco Rubio, just another Washington politician you can’t trust,” concludes the ad, which is airing in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The spot has made some Bush supporters uneasy and created challenges for the candidate, whose own immigration plan — about which he wrote an entire book — is remarkably similar to the Rubio proposal that the super PAC ad dismisses as “amnesty.”
The candidate himself has seemed uncomfortable with such attacks, particularly against Mr. Rubio, his one-time protégée. In his one major broadside against Mr. Rubio during an early debate, Mr. Bush looked awkward and the attack failed, leaving donors grumbling and his campaign scrambling to explain away the moment.
On Tuesday, asked by reporters if the super PAC supporting him was tarnishing his record, Mr. Bush distanced himself from the ad, saying he was focused only on his own campaign, but signaled that he expected the race to get tougher.
“I can’t control what anyone else does,” he said. “I can only control what I do, and I’m advocating my record and my detailed plan to fix the mess in Washington, D.C. Everybody’s going to be scrutinized. This is not bean bag.”
Moments later, referring to an ad that a super PAC supporting Mr. Rubio recently aired, featuring images of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey with President Obama, Mr. Bush posed a question of his own: “Why don’t you ask him about his ad about Christie?” he said. “I saw that in New Hampshire. That’s a zinger.”
Erick Erickson, a prominent conservative, voiced the concerns of other Republicans with a blog post Tuesday calling on Mr. Bush to “denounce his super PAC.”
“Bush is not going to be the nominee, but is getting backed by a super PAC doing its level best to stop someone who is a potential nominee and a Bush protégée,” he wrote.
Earlier in the day, at a town-hall-style event in Coralville, Iowa, a young female voter seemed to capture Mr. Bush’s ambivalence about going after Mr. Rubio, when she stood and asked, “When it’s over, when everything is over, do you go up to him and say, ‘Hey man, it’s O.K.? I didn’t mean everything,’” she said. “Because you know there was a great relationship at one time, and if you watch his face, sometimes he even looks disappointed that maybe there is the rift between you two.”
But Mr. Bush — unlike his super PAC, which has shown an increased willingness to take Mr. Rubio on directly — instead largely talked about his own record and said, only, “Marco is my friend —he’s my friend — and what has been said by our campaign, I stand by, completely.”
The new ad is not the first time Right to Rise has created problems for the Bush campaign. Late last year, the group — which has raised more than $100 million— began telling donors and supporters it was willing to spend as much as $20 million to hobble Mr. Rubio. The super PAC showed donors a contentious ad it had made, but never released, painting Mr. Rubio as unelectable in a general election because of his hard-line position against abortion
Right to Rise says the ad is not about immigration, but an effort to portray Mr. Rubio as a calculating politician with no core principles who is trying to be all things to all people.
The super PAC has also hit Mr. Trump repeatedly. But as the early voting nears — Iowans head to their caucuses on Feb. 1, and New Hampshire voters go to the polls on Feb. 9 — Right to Rise seems to have focused its attacks most on Mr. Rubio, in contrast to Mr. Bush’s own campaign strategy. (Mr. Bush frequently mentions Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, railing against him, but does not bring up Mr. Rubio unprompted.)
Another digital ad by the super PAC took a more lighthearted tone, but also attacked Mr. Rubio for changing his position on issues — using a recent dust-up over a pair of trendy black boots Mr. Rubio was spotted wearing. “These boots are made for flippin’,” says the narrator, in a sing-song voice.
Mr. Rubio’s campaign dismissed the attacks as those of a desperate candidate.
“Jeb Bush and his establishment allies are trying to buy this election, and they know Marco is standing in their way,” Alex Conant, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio, said in a statement. “That’s why their attacks grow more desperate by the day. When Marco is president, there will be no amnesty and we will secure the border. Period.”
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com