Patrick Murphy labels Marco Rubio a “puppet of the Koch Brothers” at Tampa gathering


Patrick Murphy says that despite the onslaught of negative ads being lobbed against him, he is confident that he will prevail against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in the race for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.

“They are outspending us, four-to-one, I think right now, ” the Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful told about three dozen Democratic Party activists at a registration event held at Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters in Tampa’s Ybor City on Sunday afternoon. “An unbelievable amount that the Koch Brothers and special interests are spending to help their little puppet, Marco Rubio, all right? He is doing their bidding in the Senate…he does what they say every time in the Senate.”

The Libre Initiative, a group funded by associates of Charles and David Koch that seeks to persuade Latinos to support conservative candidates, announced a $700,000 buy to run ads in favor of Rubio.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Saturday that Murphy is being outspent by more than a three-to-one basis. With the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cutting back on a planned advertising campaign for him, Murphy was asked if he will be able to compete financially over the next five weeks of the campaign.

“I’m very confident that we are going to have the resources to compete,” he said, citing commercials that he said he viewed on Sunday from his own hotel room from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Senate Majority PAC that are supporting his candidacy.

However, on Tampa’s NBC affiliate, WFLA- News Channel 8, on Sunday morning during the broadcast of “Meet The Press,” there were two separate anti-Murphy ads that ran within minutes each other. One of them blasted his support for the Iranian nuclear deal last year. That came from a conservative super PAC called the Senate Leadership Fund, which is spending more than $10 million in anti-Murphy ads this fall in Florida.

“That’s a large misrepresentation of the facts,” Murphy said Sunday about the ad. “This deal with Iran is something I studied. I believe that the number one most important thing that we do is ensure Iran never has access to a nuclear weapon. That’s what we have to focus on. We have to make sure that we are continuing to enforce this deal, but then add new sanctions for human rights violations for the funding of terrorism.”

Much has been made about how Hispanic voters are still unfamiliar with Murphy, a two-term Congressman from the Treasure Coast who doesn’t have nearly the statewide name ID as his Republican opponent. Recently, the Murphy campaign hired Barack Obama’s Hispanic media manager from 2008, Freddy Balsera, to serve as his chief of communications and strategy. And they aired their first Spanish language television and Spanish language radio ad last week. Murphy said it was important for him to remind Latino voters about Rubio’s record since he entered the race in 2015.

“I’m going to be a champion for comprehensive immigration reform and I’m going to stick to that, doesn’t matter what happens in the national scene,” Murphy said, comparing what he said will be a consistent focus on that goal vs. the “flip-flopping” that he says Rubio did on the issue in 2013.

“Not only did he turn against legislation, now he’s blocking it from passing,” said Murphy. “He’s now against Dreamers. He doesn’t want children who were brought to this country through no fault of their own to become citizens and doesn’t believe in a pathway to citizenship.”

Rubio said earlier this year while he was running for president that he opposed President Obama’s deferred action program for undocumented immigrants, a plan known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Murphy said that showed that Rubio has “no core.”

“There’s a lot of information we have to get out there,” he said about the fact that Latinos know little about himself and his opponent.

Regarding the reports that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had attempted to do business inside of Cuba in the late 1990’s, Murphy said, “We’re getting phone calls left and right from people who are saying, ‘didn’t Senator Rubio campaign on this his entire career’?”

“And now the man who he’s endorsed for president is now violating what he claims to be his number one important issue, and he’s still sticking with him?” Murphy asked. “Again, it speaks to character and integrity. If you’re going to flip-flop on immigration. If you’re going to flip-flop on trade. If you’re going to flip-flop on the importance of the embargo? What are you going to stand for?”

FloridaPolitics reached out to Marco Rubio’s campaign for a response.
“Patrick Murphy’s campaign is floundering, so he’s distorting Marco’s record like he distorted his own resume,” said spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas. “Murphy has accomplished nothing in the last four years, and has been repeatedly caught lying about his resume to hide that fact. Marco’s strong record of fighting for Floridians is a stark contrast to Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and unaccomplished.”

The first debate between Rubio and Murphy will take place in a little more than two more weeks. Murphy said he is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to tell a statewide audience Rubio’s elasticity on “every issue” and his spotty attendance record in the Senate over the past year. Undoubtedly, the Rubio camp will be similarly armed to hit Murphy on some of his vulnerabilities that have been exposed during this campaign season.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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