Donald Trump aired a new attack ad criticizing Republican rival Marco Rubio in the senator’s home state of Florida Monday just a week before the state’s GOP primary.
The commercial, released by the party front-runner, called Rubio “corrupt” for using a GOP credit card to pay for his personal expenses, including services to pave his driveway. The ad also claimed Rubio “flipped on a key vote in Florida after making a quick $200,000 from selling his house to the mother of the bill’s lobbyist.”
But despite Rubio’s home field advantage in Florida’s March 15 primary, the attack may not even be necessary to deter state Republicans from choosing the senator: Trump is currently beating out Rubio in Florida by eight percent, according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday. Specifically, 38 percent of likely primary voters said they would select Trump, and 30 percent said they would support Rubio, followed by 17 percent leaning towards Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The Republican Florida primary will reward its winner with all 99 of the state’s delegates, instead of a proportional distribution.
The “corrupt” Rubio ad concluded by calling the senator “another all-talk, no-action politician” and claimed the third-place GOP candidate has been a “total no show” in the US Senate with the worst voting record attendance among all the sitting senators. It is unknown how much money Trump’s campaign is funneling toward airing the anti-Rubio ads in Florida.
Rubio has already fought the claims regarding his history of using the Republican party of Florida’s corporate cards, which were issued to 30 people in the party from 2005 through 2009, according to the Washington Post. Rubio was Speaker of the House of Representatives in Florida between November 2006 and November 2008.
“People need to understand what they’re talking about. It wasn’t a credit card. It was an American Express charge card secured under my personal credit in conjunction with the [Republican] Party,” Rubio said in an interview on “Good Morning America” last November. ”Bills would be mailed to me at home. Every month I would go through it. If there was a personal expense, I paid it. If it was a party expense, the party paid it. Now I recognize in hindsight I would do it different to avoid confusion. But the Republican Party never paid a single personal expense of mine.” He then reiterated: “Personal expense.”
Trump’s attack ad was released several days after the two candidates’ sophomoric back-and-forth on the Fox News Republican debate Thursday. The men regularly spoke over each other, with Trump referring to the senator as “Little Marco” and Rubio poking back by calling Trump “Big Donald.” Trump also felt the need to imply the size of his own manhood during the debate, after Rubio recently said Trump had small hands while stumping. “And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee,” Trump clarified during the Thursday debate.