Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are joining forces to bring down Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] ahead of an absolutely crucial Republican primary in New Hampshire next week.
While Rubio is surging in New Hampshire following an unexpectedly strong performance in the Iowa caucuses Monday, Bush and Christie are struggling to keep their heads above water. Christie fell to sixth place in a new Wall Street Journal poll with just 4 percent of support and Bush continues to lag just ahead of him with 9 percent support.
Operatives from both campaigns told The New York Times they’ve united against Rubio, hoping to blunt or stop his surge in the state both of them desperately need to conquer if they want to stay in the race. While there’s no formal coordination between them, they are emailing, texting and calling to discuss what can be done to hurt Rubio and open lines of communication about their shared goals.
Team Bush has launched a series of attacks via aggressive TV ads and mailers, while Christie has started launching pointed verbal attacks and insults. The two campaigns have been exchanging news articles that highlight potential weaknesses in Rubio’s campaign.
Christie has started referring to Rubio as the “boy in the bubble,” mocked what he sees as a non-existent Senate record and criticized him for being too “scripted,” in the sort of attacks Christie is renowned for in New Jersey. He’s apparently hoping to set up a showdown with Rubio in Saturday’s debate that could prove to be his breakout moment.
Christie’s campaign manager Ken McKay has indicated the governor is counting on wearing down his opponents by tirelessly working the long game and then zeroing in on a narrowing field of opponents on the debate stage.
“There’s a big pile-up right now,” McKay told The Daily Caller in January. “I don’t feel like there’s a need to beat Rubio in New Hampshire or Iowa, for that matter.”“I think what Marco’s afraid of is when that stage gets smaller — [when] there’s three or four people on that stage — he does poorly, especially against someone like Christie,” he added. “I just feel like they feel that need; I feel like in the long run, that will bear out. So we have a much longer-term look at this.”
Bush has struggled on the debate stage and has largely left the verbal attacks to Christie. “Jeb can’t do that sort of stuff,” a Christie adviser told The New York Times. “They don’t have the weapon.”
Christie is polling at 3.5 percent nationally, right behind Bush who is polling at 4 percent.
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