4 Candidates Who Stabbed Rubio in the Back: An Ides of March Review
Marco Rubio was the Julius Caesar of the 2016 campaign. For months, other candidates saw him as the most effective debater, one of the strongest candidates for November, and a benchmark by which to judge their own success. When the candidate of hope and "a new American century" finally succumbed, it wasn't just due to Donald Trump -- it was a whole host of candidates who did him in.
Rubio targeted too wide an audience, earning him too many foes who each considered him competition for their "lane" of the Republican primary. Rubio was seen as establishment, Tea Party, social conservative, and even slightly libertarian. That made him the perfect punching bag for every other candidate.
Furthermore, as he picked up endorsements from leading Republicans in the last months of his campaign, Rubio seemed all but coronated as the "establishment" nominee -- something as toxic to the Republican Party this cycle as being presented a crown by the Roman people was to the senators who decided to murder Julius Caesar.
Here is PJ Media's list of Republican candidates who attacked Rubio, stabbing him in the back before he finally suspended his campaign on March 15, the same day Julius Caesar collapsed under the knives of his fellow Romans.
1. Jeb Bush
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was the first to attack Rubio. George W. Bush's brother saw Rubio as a threat early on, and spent heavily to derail his campaign. On Sunday, the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol estimated that Bush's super PAC, Right to Rise, spent $25 million in attack ads against Rubio, while it only spent about $5 million attacking Trump. Kristol said that "if Rubio is going to lose on Tuesday,...part of it is because the Bush campaign dropped $20 million of negative ads on him in Florida."
As Slate's Jim Newell put it, "Jeb Bush's super PAC, Right to Rise--after burning through $40 million already--has made a $1.4 million buy in...Iowa? To go after Sen. Marco Rubio? Yes, the same Rubio who currently polls at a distant third in the first caucus state, one that no one (including Rubio) expects him to win." Bush attacked Rubio for being too inexperienced, for his use of a charge card for personal expenses, and for switching his position on immigration.
Attacking Rubio only made sense because every campaign -- besides Trump's, of course -- bought into the false idea of "lanes." Instead of focusing fire on the front-runner, Bush and his unconnected PAC directed their ammunition on Rubio, the greatest threat in the "establishment" lane. There may be some truth to the idea that their bases overlapped, but it was a huge mistake to overlook the polls, despite the unreliability of polling. Had Bush's campaign thrown its weight against The Donald, how different would 2016 have looked?