A super-PAC alligned with Jeb Bush has launched a direct assault on 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 national security record, accusing the Florida senator of missing a top-secret briefing to fundraise for his presidential campaign.
The assualt has triggered a furious pushback from Rubio's campaign, which says the Bush super-PAC's charge is unfounded and accuses Bush of taking a page from Democrats.
Both Rubio and Bush are vying for support in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the first two contests in the Republican primary will take place in February.
Bush has been lagging behind Rubio, but the latest ad signals the former Florida governor thinks he can still surpass his former mentee.
“Days after the Paris attacks, senators came together for a top-secret briefing on the terrorist threat," the new ad from the Right to Rise super-PAC says. "Marco Rubio was missing — fundraising in California instead. Two weeks later, terrorists struck again in San Bernardino. And where was Marco? Fundraising again in New Orleans.
“Over the last three years, Rubio has missed important national security hearings and missed more total votes than any other senator. Politics first, that’s the Rubio way.”
While Rubio did miss the briefing, his campaign noted that he attended a select committee hearing on Paris days before the briefing for all members of Congress. Members of Congress typically receive more sensitive information at select committee hearings as opposed to other, broader meetings.
The Democratic National Committee, as well as GOP presidential rivals, had previously panned Rubio for the decision to skip the briefing.
Alex Conant, a Rubio campaign spokesman, bashed the attack as "sad" in a statement.
"No other candidate for president has received more classified Intelligence briefings or better understands the threats facing our nation today than Marco. It's sad to see Jeb's 'joyful' campaign reduced to such intellectual dishonesty."
Ad-buy records cited by The Des Moines Register show the group is spending $1.43 million to air the ad in Iowa from Dec. 29 through Jan. 11.
The ad is the first by Bush’s allies focused on Rubio specifically — the two Floridians are rivals by virtue of their home-state connections, and many in the Sunshine State initially thought Rubio would spend the 2016 presidential race in Bush’s shadow. But that dynamic has been flipped, with Rubio holding a spot in the top-tier while Bush struggles.
Rubio has continued to face criticism for missing votes and hearings while campaigning and has wracked up more missed votes than any other Republican presidential candidate, according to data compiled by GovTrack.