What’s immediately clear is that whoever created the YouTube account “Freshman Senator Rubio” thinks the Florida Republican has a lot in common with President Barack Obama, a Democrat he reviles.
What’s less clear is who made it.
Mike Murphy, the head of Jeb Bush’s $100 million super PAC Right to Rise, tweeted a link this morning to one of the two videos produced by the account. “The RubiObama Story, from Team Kasich,” Mr. Murphy tweeted.
The low-budget video, running just under three minutes, likens Mr. Rubio to Mr. Obama, who was also a first-term senator when he ran for president in 2008. Referring to Mr. Rubio as a “new well-spoken freshman senator,” the video shows clips of Mr. Rubio and Mr. Obama speaking, comparing their occasionally similar rhetoric while also featuring news clips discussing Mr. Rubio’s lousy Senate voting record.
The video includes these attack lines: “Both ran as freshman senators. Both ran with no executive experience. Both career politicians’ previous experience was in the state legislature. Both gained national acclaim in Senate for speeches despite no legislative accomplishments. Both had the worst attendance record in the Senate.”
The problem? The Kasich campaign told the Observer they weren’t behind the video.
“Murphy’s been wrong a lot hasn’t he,” Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Mr. Kasich, wrote in an email.
Joe Pounder, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio, declined to comment.
The account, with only two videos and no indication of what campaign or PAC created it, echoes attacks launched against Mr. Rubio by his old mentor, Mr. Bush, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Mr. Bush, who served as governor of Florida when Mr. Rubio was climbing the rungs of government, has repeatedly charged that Mr. Rubio lacks the necessary experience to lead the nation. Mr. Murphy’s super PAC, which can’t legally coordinate with the Bush campaign, has tried to bludgeon Mr. Rubio on similar grounds, with little show for the expensive effort so far.
Mr. Kasich, however, has not actively targeted Mr. Rubio.
Mr. Murphy did not return a request for comment. If he was behind the video and did not disclose it, he would be running afoul of Federal Election Commission regulations. The FEC, deadlocked between Republicans and Democrats, has not been able to police this presidential cycle.
With Mr. Rubio’s standing rising with Republican donors, operatives and the press after a stronger-than-expected showing in Iowa, next week’s New Hampshire primary is pivotal for Mr. Bush. The Republican establishment could pressure him, along with Mr. Christie and Mr. Kasich, to step aside if Mr. Rubio comes out on top. The rise of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Donald Trump, the celebrity billionaire, has alarmed the Republican elite, and many are hoping to unite around a single candidate to combat the Texas senator and the bomb-throwing Mr. Trump.
Mr. Bush, who won less than 3 percent of the vote in Iowa, may not be that candidate.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.