One would be hard-pressed to find a better year-end encapsulation of how the Republican establishment has screwed up the presidential contest than news of a certain ad-buy Tuesday. Jeb Bush’s super PAC, Right to Rise—after burning through $40 million already—has made a $1.4 million buy in … Iowa? To go after Sen. Marco Rubio? Yes, the same Rubio who currently polls at a distant third in the first caucus state, one that no one (including Rubio) expects him to win.
The ad itself goes after Rubio’s attendance record in the Senate, the same line of attack that Bush tried and failed cataclysmically to stick in Rubio’s face in an October debate.
“Presidential candidate fundraises instead of attending hearing”—now there’s some fresh stuff. The questionable effectiveness of this retread aside, what’s the strategy here? Bush isn’t really contesting Iowa—his official campaign announced Wednesday that it was canceling its remaining Iowa ad-buys—and Rubio isn’t in position to win Iowa, either. It’s possible that Mike Murphy, the chief disburser of funds at Right to Rise, is simply lighting money on fire as a performance art piece challenging contemporary absurdities of unrestricted campaign finance regulation. That we could all appreciate.