Jeb Bush had strong words for fellow Floridian Marco Rubio on Friday, claiming the senator is avoiding taking a stand in the immigration debate in Washington out of political cowardice. “The left and the right have figured out that this is a great political wedge issue,” Bush told USA Today, referring to the ongoing debate over undocumented immigrants and the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. “It’s not a moral issue or an economic issue. It’s purely an issue of, ‘How do we poll this to make sure our team, our tribe, does better?'”
Rubio was notably one of the bipartisan Gang of Eight, which pushed in 2013 for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that ultimately died in the House after failing to go to a vote. Bush suggested that Rubio’s silence now, after having formerly been a leader on the topic, is conspicuous.
“God forbid you actually took on something that was controversial and paid a political price,” Bush taunted. “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.”
Bush and Rubio faced off for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, with both men ultimately losing the nod to Donald Trump. Bush, who formerly served as the governor of Florida, added that his disgust with Capitol Hill is keeping him from returning to politics. Until the culture in Washington changes, “I don’t anticipate running for anything,” he said.