Jeb Bush and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE’s long-simmering feud in the GOP presidential race burst into the open on Wednesday night over Rubio’s missed votes in the Senate.
Rubio was challenged by a CNBC debate moderator for missing more votes than any other senator this year and being a "young man in a hurry" in his political career, moving on to a new office before finishing out a full term. The Florida lawmaker responded forcefully with a line that won him wild applause from the crowd.
“That’s exactly what the Republican establishment says too,” Rubio said. “'Why don’t you wait in line?' Wait for what? This country is running out of time, we can’t afford to have another eight years like the last four. ... The time to act is now. The time to turn the page is now.”
But before the moderators could move on, Bush interjected, pointing out that as a fellow Florida resident, Rubio represents him in the Senate.
“I’m a constituent of the senator and I helped him and expected he would show up to work,” the former governor said. “But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term. I mean, literally the Senate, what is it a French work week where you have three days to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job.
"There are a lot of people in Florida living paycheck to paycheck looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.”
Rubio responded: "The only reason [Bush is launching this attack] is because we're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you." The crowd cheered.
Rubio had a ready-made comeback, firing back at Bush by saying that he never criticized Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOur military shouldn't be held hostage to 'water politics' Meghan McCain blames 'toxic' hostility for 'The View' exit Beware the tea party of the left MORE in his 2008 run for the White House for missing votes.
“I don’t remember you ever complaining about his voting record, the only reason you’re doing it is because we’re running for the same position and you’re convinced that attacking me is going to help you,” the senator said.
Late Tuesday, Rubio’s hometown paper the Sun Sentinel released a blistering editorial imploring he resign.
“Your job is to represent Floridians in the Senate,” the paper wrote. “Either do your job, Sen. Rubio, or resign it.”
At the debate, Rubio blasted the paper, which endorsed his Senate candidacy in 2010, pointing out that the editors did not similarly call out then-Sens. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Public officials are under physical and digital siege We must protect and support our health care safety net MORE and John KerryJohn KerryPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space MORE for missing votes while they ran for office.
“It’s evidence of the bias that exists in the American media today,” Rubio said.