Val Demings blasts Marco Rubio for giving credence to anti-vaxxers

Rep. Val Demings
'If Senator Rubio had any backbone, he would call out these vaccine skeptics.'

In her first overt campaign attack on Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings bashed her likely 2022 opponent for supporting anti-vaccine talk show hosts and urged him to stop giving them credence.

“Stop appearing on these anti-vaccine pundits’ television shows, immediately,” Demings said in a news release issued Tuesday by her Senate campaign. “If Senator Rubio had any backbone, he would call out these vaccine skeptics and start putting the lives of Floridians ahead of his own political career.”

Specifically, Demings declared Rubio “loves to hang out” with radio host Sean Hannity, NewsMax host Eric Bolling, and Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Brian Kilmeade, all of whom she describes as “noted spreaders of anti-vaccine disinformation that is hurting Floridians.”

Her call comes as Florida suffers a tragic stretch of record numbers of COVID-19 deaths after a summer that saw a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitals straining to find room for COVID-19 patients in Florida.

Florida’s vaccination efforts plateaued in June and July, apparently bumping against large numbers of people with vaccine hesitancy. That dynamic began to reverse in late July and August when the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval and many Floridians apparently reconsidered their hesitancy in the face of a fast-expanding, delta variant-fueled COVID-19 outbreak.

However, Hannity, Bolling, Carlson, and Kilmeade are among public opinion influencers telling people to be wary of, sometimes even to reject, vaccinations.

To drive home that point, the Demings campaign released an 83-second social media video called “Frequent Guest.” It recaps some conservative talk hosts’ warnings against vaccinations, followed by shots of Rubio looking dumbfounded but silent. It then offers snippets of news reports about Florida’s summer surge of COVID-19. The spot ends with text reading, “Senator Rubio, your silence is hurting Florida.”

Rubio’s campaign pointed out that he has repeatedly told people they should be vaccinated, including an appearance on Channel 4 in Miami, for “CBS Good Morning,” when he said, “Everyone should be vaccinated. There’s no reason not to be vaccinated. I’m vaccinated. My family’s vaccinated.”

For Demings to face Rubio in the 2022 General Election, she must win a crowded Democratic Primary Election that includes Ken Russell, Allen Ellison, Alan Grayson, and several others.

Rubio already has turned his focus on Demings, launching an attack ad last month against her.

And Demings is backing off her own critique.

“My message to Senator Rubio could not be more urgent: stop giving cover to anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists,” Demings states in the news release. “Why won’t Senator Rubio call out vaccine disinformation by his own biggest boosters? It’s a complete failure of leadership. We have a safe, effective vaccine available to nearly every Floridian, but Senator Rubio’s decision to legitimize vaccine skeptics contributes to a crisis — we’re seeing a record number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths affecting everyone from teachers to first responders to even children.

“If Senator Rubio must appear on these anti-vaccine pundits’ television shows, I know it’s difficult for him, but he should at least try to find the courage to call out these vaccine skeptics and start putting the lives of Floridians ahead of his own political career.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • PeterH

    September 14, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    This is ALL ABOUT DONALD TRUMP! Marco Rubio MUST lick the boots of Donald Trump in order to maintain Trump’s voters. Rubio cannot win elections without Trump’s base!

    • Impeach Biden

      September 14, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      Demings was a finalist for the VP slot under Joe Biden. Sleepy picked Giggles who is awful. What does that say about Demings?

  • PeterH

    September 14, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    What it says to me is that the Biden White House is strategically looking at taking back the Senate. It’s what competent political parties do!

    Rubio is a weak Trumpster! Demings is strong and impeached Trump twice!

    A Republican winning a Senate seat (or any other State wide seat in California) is highly unlikely. So …. That’s why Harris was selected to join the ticket!

    Too bad you’re not happy with Ms. Harris. She may not be articulate….. but she is quite bright.

    • Impeach Biden

      September 14, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      So how do you rate her job performance on the Southern Border? Did she solve the problem there or simply have a few State dinners in Central America and Mexico? She would have been fired for incompetence if she worked in the private sector.

  • PeterH

    September 14, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Once again you don’t understand facts, immigration policy or the Constitution!

    Ms. Harris is enforcing THE LAW AS IT IS WRITTEN. The Executive Branch does not write law …. they enforce it. The ONLY MECHANISM to change immigration law is through the competence and willingness of Congress.

    No ….. only OANN, Breitbart and Stormfront state that Harris would be fired if she were in a private company. Nonsense prevails…. because a private company does not follow the same protocols as our Constitution. Do a little comprehensive reading before you post nonsense.

    In frustration, in 2017 a powerless Donald Trump asked Congress to change the policies at the border.

    Republican Lindsey Graham formed a bipartisan committee and they came up with a comprehensive immigration reform bill that both Democrats and Republicans wanted to approve.

    In Committee…. Donald Trump rejected the plan. …. So Trump was forced to maintain the existing law …..UNTIL THE PANDEMIC! The pandemic gave Trump “temporary” emergency authority to stop all immigration.

    Biden has stopped MILLIONS of would be immigrants BEFORE they came into the USA. He has processed some.

  • Impeach Biden

    September 14, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    Peter I lived in Del Rio TX before. This is one of the crossing hot spots currently. I saw nothing like this in my time there. Have you seen or read any of the comments from the Mayor Of Del Rio? He’s a Democrat by the way. Nearly two million will be arriving during Biden’s first year. It is a crisis that you and many others just turn your back on.

  • PeterH

    September 14, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    I’m a conservative independent. First…. There are not millions crossing into the USA and staying here. Most are stopped at the border. Many are repeat attempts at border crossing.

    If you’re not happy with the current immigration situation CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS AND SENATE. The White House CAN’T MODIFY THE EXISTING LAWS.

    • Impeach Biden

      September 14, 2021 at 4:47 pm

      I have written Debbie Wasserman Schultz several times and she is uninterested in doing anything. This is the same Wasserman Schultz that was stomping around Homestead under the previous administration along with her two fellow Democrats Shala, and Murcasel-Powell demanding the cages that house migrant children be closed. Guess what is back open for business again. Now it’s Biden and Wasserman Schultz says nothing. Hypocrisy at its finest.

  • Eve Wright

    September 14, 2021 at 5:00 pm

    Here are 7 at-home jobs that pay at least $100/day. And there’s quite the variety too! Some of these work-at-home jobs are more specialized, others are jobs that anyone can do.KJW They all pay at least $3000/month, but some pay as much as $10,000.

Comments are closed.


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