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Jeb Bush defends his super PAC attacks against Marco Rubio

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Jeb Bush on Wednesday defended the multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign that his super PAC backing him has unleashed on Marco Rubio this week. Two new ads produced by the Bush super PAC Right to Rise that are airing in the early primary states depict Rubio as “just another Washington politician” who has repeatedly changed his mind on immigration.

“Marco Rubio and his own campaign has attacked me, has attacked Ted Cruz, has attacked Chris Christie, so let’s don’t try to feel like that anybody’s a victim here,” Bush said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Wednesday. “This isn’t beanbag, this is politics. I would say it’s pretty tame so far compared to previous election cycles.”

One of the ads is a mock video called “These Boots Are Made For Flippin’” — a parody of Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 classic, “The Boots Are Made For Walkin.’” For almost a full minute and a half, a pair of legs and hips dressed in a suit and nice shoes dances back and forth across the screen, a reference to Rubio’s Florsheim boots that became an issue on the campaign trail last week.

While acknowledging that Bush had no coordination with Right to Rise in producing the ad, MSNBC’s Willie Geist asked the former Florida governor what he thought of it.

Bush responded by suggesting that Rubio isn’t much of a leader.

“Look, I think we need leaders that run to the challenge, run to the fire to solve the problem, rather than cut and run if there’s a problem. And there’s a lot of elected officials who don’t accept responsibility for the challenges that we face. I’m a problem solver. I see a problem and I accept responsibility and try to fix things. I don’t try to say, ‘the dog ate my homework’, or ‘it’s someone else’ fault,’ and that is an important point because we’re not electing a backbencher to the United States Senate. We’re electing the president of the United States. Which means you have to lead.”

Bush has been ridiculed by conservatives over the ads, with several asking why he is taking on Rubio vs. front-runner Donald Trump or even Ted Cruz, who leads in some polls in Iowa and now is in second place in most other national and state polls.

“Jeb Bush had a chance to exit this race at a time when his candidacy might only have been remembered as an embarrassing waste of time,” wrote commentator Matt Lewis. “Now, it’s also a disgrace.”

“Jeb Bush, at this point, really should denounce his Super PAC,” added Eric Erickson.

Bush then turned up the testosterone when asked by Joe Scarborough whether he owns any platform boots.

“I got my cowboy boots on, Big Joe,” Bush responded.

Scarborough countered if his boots made him 3 inches taller.

“I don’t have a height issue,” Bush riposted. Bush is 6-4, some 7 inches taller than Rubio.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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