Gloves begin to come off in battle of Jeb vs. Rubio

Story highlights

  • The budding tension between the two Floridians running for president escalated on Tuesday
  • "We are not going to fix a dysfunctional Washington, D.C., by electing a celebrity entertainer or D.C. senator," Bush said

Washington (CNN)The budding tension between the two Floridians running for president escalated on Tuesday as Marco Rubio defended his Senate record amid new attacks by Jeb Bush.

Bush and Rubio have largely avoided criticizing one another during the presidential race's first six months, but they are increasingly squabbling without a detente in sight. Bush aides and allies have increasingly been highlighting Rubio's poor attendance for votes in Washington -- a tally that has also been fodder for another new Rubio agitator, Donald Trump.
Bush grouped those two together in a new Des Moines Register op-ed.
    "We are not going to fix a dysfunctional Washington, D.C., by electing a celebrity entertainer or D.C. senator who is either part of the problem or has proven incapable of fixing it," the former Florida governor wrote.
    Later that night, he grew forceful in Bettendorf, Iowa, saying, "We should cut the pay of elected officials that don't show up to work."
    It's a line he's been using on the campaign trail since August, but this time he expanded upon it.
    "I don't know about you, but this idea this idea that somehow voting isn't important, I mean what are they supposed to do? They should go to the committee hearings, they should vote," he said, lightly pounding his first on the podium at a Scott County GOP dinner.
    Rubio and Bush rose in Florida politics together and describe one another as friends. But Bush over the past two weeks has questioned aloud whether Rubio has the skills needed to run the country.
    In an interview with CNN last week, the former Florida governor described Rubio as someone who followed his leadership, and negatively compared Rubio's youthful message with President Barack Obama's.
    "Look, we've had a president who came in and said the same kind of thing -- new and improved, hope and change -- and he didn't have the leadership skills to fix things," said Bush.
    At a house party in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Rubio was asked the same question posed by Bush: How could he fix Washington if he comes from within it?
    "I've been there four and a half years. I haven't been there 40. I've been there long enough to know it's broken, not so long that I've fallen in love with it," he said. "My loyalties are not to the U.S. Senate. My loyalties are to the people of the United State of America and the people who nominated me to represent Florida."