Rubio’s Opportunism on Immigration Is Coming Back to Haunt Him
But Florida Republicans in both camps tell a different story, one of an elder statesman who, after waiting eight years to run for president, viewed his younger protégé’s decision to challenge him for the GOP nomination after one term in the senate as an affront—and of personal enmity that’s deepened as Rubio has risen to the top of the field while Bush has sunk.
“People around him have just reached a point of pure anger,” said one Florida politico who is supporting Rubio. “This is purely just hatred amongst his staff to go after Marco out of jealousy, spite, you name it—because everyone knows the one person who can win is Marco and yet they’re doing everything they can to hurt him. They still can’t get over him having the audacity to run.”
It seems undeniable that Bush’s allies are attacking Rubio on immigration simply to undermine and harm him rather than help Bush, but it is a big problem for Rubio that his candidacy is so vulnerable on this issue that even Jeb Bush‘s allies can use it to hurt him. Rubio’s campaign isn’t struggling because Bush allies are being mean to him. It is struggling because on one of the more important issues in this election large numbers of Republicans don’t trust Rubio because of the various positions he has taken over the years.
If that weren’t the case, there’s no chance that attacks from a Bush Super PAC would matter because no one would believe them. The “flip-flop” charge on immigration stings because it’s completely true and reflects poorly on the candidate. Rubio’s immigration record is his biggest weakness because he has tried to have things both ways in a short period of time. Even other pro-immigration candidates can use that against him because it also draws attention to Rubio’s opportunism. That tells us that he would be a flawed general election candidate, since Clinton and her supporters could easily use the same attack that Bush’s allies are using now.