Orange City, IA — Taking a victory lap in Iowa after a dominant debate Wednesday, Marco Rubio declined to respond to Jeb Bush’s attacks on him during the debate, but told reporters he did not think it was a smart strategy for Republicans to attack one another.
“I just don’t think it’s a smart thing for Republicans to do Hillary Clinton’s job for her,” Rubio said in a gaggle after his speech at a rally organized by county Republican parties in Northwest Iowa. “One of the reasons I think we lost in 2012 is Republicans attacking each other weakened their eventual nominee.”
Rubio repeatedly declined to comment on Bush’s attacks beyond saying that he had a right to determine his own campaign strategy.
“I just think that someone in his campaign has convinced him that the way forward is to attack me, and so that’s why they’re doing it,” Rubio said. ”That’s fine, everybody makes their own decisions. I’m gonna focus on my campaign. You’re not gonna hear me speak bad about him or anybody else running on the Republican side. If there are policy differences we’ll discuss them.”
Rubio, it’s true, does not attack Bush directly in his stump speeches. But almost every single one of them includes an obvious jab at the former governor of his home state, usually about how Republicans should not just be electing the person who’s next in line. This evening, Rubio appeared to be making a reference to Bush’s latest “Jeb Can Fix It” tour, which Bush launched following his disastrous debate performance.
“I point out these problems not in an effort to discourage you, but in an effort to remind you that we can fix everything before us,” Rubio said. “There is no problem before America that is not within our reach to fix. But we have to go do it, and we’re running out of time. And we won’t be able to do it if all we do is elect the same people, the next person in line with the same ideas. They’re not bad people, they love America, but the world has changed, and our policies must change with it.”
“We need people with a sense of energy and urgency about the challenges before our country,” he added, aping the most common attack on Jeb’s style as low-energy.
The two rivals will be in Des Moines Saturday, where both will speak at an event hosted by the Republican Party of Iowa.