The standout moment of Wednesday night’s debate — Marco Rubio counter-punching Jeb Bush on his Senate absences — followed the presidential hopefuls to Iowa on Saturday at the last official GOP cattle call before the caucuses.
It was an exchange that brought the long-simmering feud between the longtime allies-turned-opponents into the forefront.
Bush’s efforts to keep the pressure on Rubio continued into Saturday at the Iowa Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Party, when he again referenced Rubio’s attendance during his address.
“If you’re elected to serve, you should do what Chuck Grassley does: You should show up to vote,” Bush said in a reference to Iowa’s senior senator.
But the momentum Rubio won from his performance Wednesday night extended into Iowa, and he received perhaps the best reception of the day at the event. He received huge rounds of applause during his speech, and was thronged by supporters as he tried to leave the venue.
Rubio’s welcome capped a two-day swing through the state that saw him pack a happy-hour event on Friday before getting the warmest reception that night at a Northwestern Iowa GOP event, and then fielding questions at a town hall on Saturday morning.
All throughout, he ignored Bush’s attacks, and indeed downplayed the conflict in an interview with NBC News.
“I’m running for president, I’m not running against any of these guys,” he said, when asked whether he was worried the back-and-forth would damage his relationship with Bush.