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Rubio: Obama tried to prevent Netanyahu win by ordering operatives to Israel

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks next to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) during a news conference to introduce their proposal for an overhaul of the tax code, March 4, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer, Getty Images

President Obama sent top political advisers to Israel to influence the election's outcome and prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's win, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday.

"He can't say he has a business-like relationship or that it isn't personal when his entire political machine, virtually, some of the top people in his political operation, were in Israel on the ground trying to defeat Netanyahu, which is unprecedented," Rubio told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview Tuesday. "You know, he didn't send anyone in any other country to try to influence the outcome of those elections."

Rubio, who is weighing a 2016 White House bid, criticized the president's involvement in Israel's tight elections, adding that tensions have grown personal between Obama and Netanyahu.

The president has recently dismissed reporting of his strained connections with the newly re-elected Israeli leader, instead characterizing their relationship as "very businesslike."

"The issue is not a matter of relations between leaders. The issue is a very clear, substantive challenge," Mr. Obama told reporters Tuesday in a press conference held with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. "We believe that two states is the best path forward for Israel's security, for Palestinian aspirations and for regional stability. That's our view and that continues to be our view. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has a different approach."

But Rubio had a different interpretation of the situation, opining to Hewitt that the friction between the two heads of state "sounds pretty personal."

"[F]rom Jeremy Bird down to others that were deeply and intricately involved in his campaigns in the past, he sent them down there to start the equivalent of a superPAC to try to oust Netanyahu," the presidential hopeful said. "That sounds pretty personal to me."

Bird is a Democratic political consultant who was the national field director for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. He was working with a group in Israel, V15, an Israeli voter mobilization group, whose goal was to elect a center-left coaltion that would negotiate a two-state solution.

The Florida senator echoed sentiments of others in the Republican party who have condemned President Obama for giving Netanyahu the cold shoulder after his re-election. Arizona Sen. John McCain even mentioned Sunday that the president needed to "get over [his] temper tantrum" over Israel.

Rubio also addressed the possibility of a two-state solution -- which the U.S. supports.

"As far as the two-state solution, I would say what many Israelis say, which is yeah, that's the ideal outcome," Rubio said. "It's also the least likely. And here's why, because you don't have the conditions today for that to happen."

In the days before the Israeli election, Prime Minister Netanyahu said there would never be a two-state solution, although he has publicly softened his stance in the days since his victory.