Republicans Echo Super PAC Ads in Debate Attacks

2 minute read

At Thursday’s debate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was asked about the attacks on rival Republicans from the super PAC that is supporting him. In response, he shrugged.

“As it relates to the super PACs, I have no control over that, and this is beanbag compared to what the Clinton hit machine is going to do to the Republican nominee,” he said.

It’s true that Bush, under the law, cannot coordinate with the Right to Rise super PAC, just as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio can’t with the Conservative Solutions super PAC and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz can’t with the Keep the Promise super PACs.

But nevertheless the arguments that the three candidates made were largely in sync with the messages being put out in millions of dollars of TV advertising on their behalf by the super PACs.

Keep the Promise I, one of the Cruz super PACs, released an ad this month about Rubio’s previous support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The ad repeatedly shows President Obama praising the legislation Rubio worked on.

Cruz took the same tack at Thursday’s debate.

“The facts are are very, very simple. When that battle was waged, my friend Senator Rubio chose to stand with Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and support amnesty,” he said.

Conservative Solutions, which backs Rubio, has likewise aired an ad accusing Cruz of switching positions for political advantage. And Rubio, in turn, made the same case.

“This is the lie that Ted’s campaign is built on, and Rand touched upon it — that he’s the most conservative guy, and everyone else is a — you know, everyone else is a rhino,” Rubio said on Thursday. “The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes.”

Meantime, Right to Rise, which backs Bush, has made the political opportunism argument against Rubio with an ad arguing that “with his record on immigration, how can we trust Rubio on anything?”

Bush made a similar case against his fellow Floridian at the debate.

“He led the charge to finally fix this immigration problem that has existed now for, as Marco says, for 30 years,” he said. “And then he cut and run because it wasn’t popular amongst conservatives, I guess.”


More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Katie Reilly at