The two former Republican presidential candidates best known for bucking the party on immigration found themselves at odds over the issue Friday.
Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and an early presidential frontrunner prior to 2016, unloaded on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in an interview with USA Today, voicing intense frustration with what he said was a lack of leadership on his Florida colleague’s part.
“God forbid you actually took on something that was controversial and paid a political price,” Bush said. “That’s the attitude in D.C. right now. Certainly Sen. Rubio is no different in that regard. Marco is a talented guy and he understands this issue really well, and maybe behind the scenes he’s working hard. But at some point, his leadership would be really helpful.”
Rubio, of course, was famously part of a bipartisan group of senators—the so-called “Gang of Eight”—that attempted to pass an immigration overhaul in 2013. He has of late been mostly quiet on the current impasse in the Senate over the future of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. In fact, a number of Republican senators recently told Politico that Rubio was aligning himself privately with some of the immigration hardliners in his caucus.
“The difference between now and ’13 is that there’s a Republican in the White House and a Republican majority in the Senate,” Rubio told the publication describing his belief that a bipartisan solution doesn't make as much sense in this climate. “The 2013 bill was designed through the context of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president. Now we have a Republican Senate, a Republican House and a Republican president.”
In the remainder of the interview, Bush also said that President Trump poses a risk to Republican incumbents in the 2018 midterms.
“If the election is nationalized and it’s not about the economy, then we’ll lose,” the former governor said. “If it’s about the economy and it's driven by state or district interest, incumbents can do well.”
Bush did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from The Daily Beast.