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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hostility, negative ads build up between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio



WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — If Marco Rubio fails to win the Republican presidential nomination, count on him to place much of the blame on his old friend and mentor Jeb Bush and Bush's political team.

"I think they kind of felt that maybe things haven't gone the way they planned, and so taking me down is what they're going to do," Rubio said on Fox News on Tuesday night about Jeb Bush's super PAC political committee, which so far has spent at least $20 million on TV ads critical of Rubio. "You know, when I got into this race, a lot of people in the establishment told me that if I ran, it wasn't my turn and they would do what they needed to stop me. So obviously, this is a part of that."

Bush essentially answered his former protege's charge Saturday night in Merrimack, N.H., when a voter asked about all the negative ads coming from his super PAC, Right to Rise.

"Time to man up," said the former governor, sounding not the least bit sorry about the ads coming from that independently run committee, which he said seemed "pretty tame" to him.

"Wait till you see the Hillary Clinton attack ad hit machine come on. You're going to see attack ads that are going to scrape the bark off the Republican nominee. … As they say in North Florida, it's going to be butt-ugly," Bush said.

As Rubio and his campaign aides cast him as a victim of Right to Rise's negative ads — even as his super PAC funds its own negative ads targeting fellow Republicans — they are receiving sympathetic receptions from some conservative news outlets and pundits. Much of the party establishment fears Trump or Cruz as the nominee and sees Rubio as the strongest alternative.

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[Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2016 12:31am]


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