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At Sun City Center, Marco Rubio derides Patrick Murphy as an ‘old-fashioned liberal’

Marco Rubio has been making the case that Patrick Murphy hasn’t accomplished much of anything during his four years in the House of Representatives. Now, with the polls tightening, he’s saying the voting record of his Democratic rival in the U.S. Senate race is also too liberal.

“Why does someone lie about their background, about things that they have done? Apparently because they haven’t done anything,” Rubio told a couple dozen supporters at a golf clubhouse in Sun City Center in South Hillsborough County early Monday morning. “Here’s what’s worse: When he’s not lying, he’s actually incredibly liberal.”

Rubio citied Murphy’s support of the Iran nuclear deal and his support for closing down Guantanamo Bay as evidence that the Jupiter representative is too left for Florida voters.

“I’ve seen this ad the other day. It says he’s an independent voice,” Rubio said, adding, “Not on the issues that count.”

“On the issues that count, he doesn’t just mislead people, he’s a good old fashioned liberal, and Florida cannot afford to have somebody that liberal in the U.S. Senate, particularly on issues of national security,” Rubio said.

“Patrick Murphy is one of the most independent members of Congress and it’s clear that Marco Rubio is desperate,” replied Murphy spokesperson Galia Slayen. “Despite millions of dollars in special interest money being spent against Patrick, we’re tied in the polls, Rubio’s hometown paper endorsed Patrick, and President Obama exposed Rubio for the coward that he is for continuing to support Donald Trump. Marco Rubio is devoid of political courage and lying about Patrick’s record. Floridians deserve better.”

Murphy’s voting record was certainly not considered that liberal to Florida progressives when he first declared his candidacy for Senate in early 2015. Murphy actually was a Republican before switching to become a Democrat, and his votes in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline and for a House committee to investigate Benghazi were frequently invoked by Alan Grayson, Murphy’s top opponent in the Democratic primary.

Campaigning on the first day of early voting in Hillsborough County (and in 49 other counties in Florida), Rubio said while much of the focus is on the presidential race, he emphasized the importance of his Senate race, referring to the power a senator has in approving or rejecting Supreme Court justices. He said if the next nominee happens to be in their mid-50s, they’ll likely be on the court for the next 20-25 years, “which is the equivalent of three eight-year presidencies.”

“That means that for the next 25 years, the very balance of the Supreme Court is at stake,” he added.

With Donald Trump speaking in Tampa Monday night, the Murphy campaign issued out a statement with the headline, “Will Today Be The Day?” asking mischievously if the two could end up on stage together. “We’re not doing presidential events,” Rubio said, not looking pleased to answer the question.

The Florida senator continues to be hammered by members of the media for not disassociating himself from the GOP nominee, who he blasted during the presidential primary season, but is now backing because he says Trump is preferable to a Hillary Clinton presidency.

On “This Week in South Florida” on Sunday, Miami WLPG-TV host Michael Putney blasted Rubio as a “smart, talented guy who earned our respect when he first sought elected office,” but “now it seems he’ll do or say anything to stay in office, even swallow his pride and vote for a presidential candidate he clearly detests, all to advance his own political ambitions.”

Rubio said when it comes to Trump, he’s letting such criticism roll off of him.

“I’ve talked about that race repeatedly. People know how I feel about it,” he said regarding his continuing support for a Trump presidency. “I’m focused on the Senate race. If people want to continue talking about other things, they certainly have the right, it’s a free country. We’re blessed to have such freedoms in this country.”

“We’ve reached this point in America where people hate each other because of who they’re voting for,” Rubio later said, alluding to how divisive the Clinton-Trump race has become. “People hate each other because of what bumper sticker they have on their car. We’ve got to back away a little bit from that. We should feel passionately about our issues, but ultimately we all have to share the same country. There is no scenario where half of us do better and the other half does worse — that’s not a country that works. We can all be better off, and we should be able to disagree on political issues while still working on issues that we agree on.”

Rubio has spoken critically for years about Hillary Clinton, prompting FloridaPolitics to ask the senator if he could work effectively with her if the two of them both won on Nov. 8?

“When she agrees with me,” he immediately quipped. “I’ll look forward to working with her.”

He then went on to say the majority of his major legislation passed in his six years in the Senate have had major buy-in from Democrats, referring specifically to his “Girls Count Act” with New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen (that will direct current U.S. foreign aid to support the rights of women and girls in developing countries by working to establish birth registries in their countries) and proposed higher education legislation with Virginia’s Mark Warner.

“When we agree on something, I enjoy working with people who I disagree with on other issues,” he said.

Rubio was scheduled to then attend a forum on the opioid crisis with Congressman Vern Buchanan in Bradenton.

 

Written By

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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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