Politics & Policy

Rubio Campaign Chief: Don’t Take Jeb’s Bait

(Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Marco Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, had a message on Monday after Rubio’s first full week on the campaign trail as a presidential candidate: Don’t return the fire coming from Jeb Bush’s camp. 

“Our early success is not going unnoticed by other campaigns,” Sullivan wrote in a memo to staff and top donors obtained by National Review (displayed below). “This weekend, the Drudge Report highlighted an AP report that another campaign has ‘Started quietly spreading negative information about Rubio’s record.’ We cannot take the bait and return fire. We must stay positive.”  

Sullivan’s reference is to an Associated Press report filed from Nashua, N.H., where both candidates were campaigning over the weekend, in which Bush allies expressed disapproval of and disappointment in Rubio, and vice versa. In the memo, Sullivan doesn’t reference Bush or his campaign by name. 

The AP article cites only one Rubio supporter, billionaire auto dealer Norman Braman, who told the wire service what he has been telling many: that he doesn’t like monarchies or dynasties. Sullivan doesn’t name Braman, either, but it’s clear he wants the trash-talking to stop.

“This last week proved again that Marco does best when people hear his positive message directly from him,” Sullivan wrote. “We must run our own campaign and not respond to other’s.”

#related#Rubio took that message, about making the 21st century another American century, on the road in New Hampshire this weekend. Standing on a window ledge and looking out at the crowd packed into a residential home on a quiet Manchester street on Friday afternoon, he said that his campaign may be taking him away from his young family, but he’s running for his kids. 

“If we do what we should do, they are going to be the freest and most prosperous Americans who have ever lived,” he said. Alternatively, they could be the “first Americans to inherit a diminished country.” 

His campaign is calling him an “aspirational conservative.” Rubio thinks most Americans are, and he said as much on Friday, calling his positions those of the “majority . . . in this country.” 

“The extremists are the people that don’t agree with those positions,” he said. 

Now, his campaign chief is asking his own supporters to get out of the way.

— Eliana Johnson is Washington editor of National Review.

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