Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., talks during a campaign Rally at the Millennium Tennis & Fitness Club, Dec. 18, 2015, in Joplin, Mo.
Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP

Rubio, Bush camps spar over ad attacking Rubio’s Senate record


Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio warred Tuesday over a new ad from Bush’s super PAC that accuses the Florida senator of skipping national security hearings in favor of fundraising trips.

“Politics first: that’s the Rubio way,” says a narrator in the ad from the Bush-affiliated group Right to Rise, which plans to spend $1.4 million on television ads in Iowa over the next two weeks.

The ad notes that Rubio missed a November 18 briefing for all senators in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

“Marco Rubio was missing, fundraising in California instead,” the narrator says.

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The Rubio team shot back aggressively, deriding the claim as “intellectual dishonesty” because the ad fails to mention that Rubio attended a higher-level security briefing on the same topic on November 17.

“Bush’s team dishonestly omits that Marco is on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, where he attended the highest level briefings on the Paris attacks,” said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant. “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.”

And Rubio aide Joe Pounder tweeted that Bush was also fundraising on December 2, after the San Bernardino shootings.

Right to Rise official Paul Lindsay shot back: “The Rubio campaign is correct that Jeb Bush is, indeed, not a U.S. Senator and has not skipped critical top secret national security briefings to fundraise.”

At the time of the briefing, an aide told NBC News that Rubio skipped the November 18 meeting because he had attended a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing the previous day, which Rubio’s staff said included more in-depth classified information than what is shared with all 100 members of the United States Senate.

Rubio has come under fire for missing votes in the Senate in favor of campaign events. The Florida senator has countered that other previous presidential candidates also played hooky from their Senate jobs during the heat of the campaigns.

Another GOP candidate, Gov. Chris Christie, also took Rubio to task Tuesday over his record on missing Senate votes.

“Dude, show up,” he told voters at a town hall in Muscatine, Iowa. “Vote. If you don’t want to, quit.”

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Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

Rubio, Bush camps spar over ad attacking Rubio's Senate record