Political Analyst at NBC Steve Schmidt is seen at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit 2018 at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in October 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
Washington CNN  — 

Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rick Scott criticized Steve Schmidt, a co-founder of the anti-President Donald Trump super PAC the Lincoln Project, after Schmidt went after Rubio in a series of tweets that invoked the Florida senator’s Cuban heritage.

The exchange started after Rubio tweeted on Monday, “Brilliant move! No one is more in touch with the challenges & obstacles faced by everyday Americans than actors & celebrities,” in response to a clip of actress Eva Longoria speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

In response, Schmidt on Tuesday criticized the Florida GOP senator in a series of tweets, which referenced the fact that Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants who came to the United States in 1956.

As part of the exchange, Schmidt tweeted that Rubio’s parents were “looking for a better life like the hard working immigrants you have abandoned because you fear Trump and love your position.” He went on to say, “Rubio is the type of man who would have stayed in Cuba in 59. He is the type of ambitious young man who would have sensed new opportunities. He is the type of man who would have gladly held Castro’s coat if it helped him rise, just a little.”

Rubio, Cruz and Scott all forcefully pushed back against Schmidt with Cruz calling the accusation “beyond the pale,” Scott calling it “offensive and idiotic,” and Rubio calling Schmidt “the type of washed up man who sensed new opportunities to make some $.”

The Lincoln Project is a super PAC that has produced a steady stream of ads that slam Trump. Its website states that its mission is to “defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.”

The super PAC is overseen by Republicans and ex-Republicans. Schmidt is a vocal critic of Trump as well as a veteran of GOP campaigns, including John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. In 2018, he announced that he was leaving the Republican Party in the wake of the Trump administration’s immigration policies that led to the separation of families.

At the time, Schmidt said that he was renouncing his membership in the Republican Party, which he described as “fully the party of Trump.” He also declared himself an independent voter aligned with the Democratic Party.

Rubio responded to Schmidt on Tuesday, saying, “Schmidt is the type of man who turns to political prostitution. The type of washed up man who sensed new opportunities to make some $. The type of man who gladly supports a party with prominent members who sympathize with Castro because it helps him be relevant, just a little.”

Scott, a Florida Republican senator, responded to Rubio, saying, “Marco is right. Steve Schmidt has always hated conservatives. His opinion is meaningless. Telling a Cuban-American leader like @marcorubio that he would have supported Castro is offensive and idiotic.”

Cruz, a Texas GOP senator, tweeted in response to Schmidt, “Marco & I haven’t always agreed, but to see him slandered by this oleaginous cretin is shameful. Schmidt wouldn’t understand—he’s spent his life serving, & then betraying, powerful men—but for those whose families suffered & bled under Castro’s tyrannny, this is beyond the pale.”

Schmidt fired back in response to Cruz, saying in part on Wednesday in a new series of tweets, “What a privilege it is to be able to address @tedcruz @marcorubio @SenRickScott all at once. It is no slander and the same criticism applies to you. Never has anything been so clear and obvious as the truth that both Rubio and you lack principle and courage. Trump has cruelly attacked your Wife, the Mother of your daughters and your Father. You debase yourself to maintain his favor for the low purpose of protecting your position and title. During this hour of crisis you could have stood up for American democracy, security and simple decency. You did not.”

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten and Jamie Ehrlich contributed to this report.