Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign on Friday heralded what it cast as a fresh endorsement from current Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- just days after Nelson undercut Murphy's latest attack on his Republican opponent.
Earlier this week, Nelson defended incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the man Murphy wants to unseat in November.
Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, began the week off by attacking Rubio for not doing enough to get a Zika funding bill passed through Congress. But Nelson told reporters on Capitol Hill hours later that the fault lies not with Rubio but with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"Remember, (Rubio) voted for the $1.9 billion and he was my co-sponsor. And he voted for the $1.1 billion with no riders," Nelson said, diminishing Murphy's criticism that Rubio had failed to "deliver" on a "clean" Zika bill.
Murphy's campaign on Friday also tried to cast Nelson's endorsement as recent, noting that Nelson is someone who "has openly supported Murphy since the (Aug. 30) primary."
But Nelson has actually "openly supported" Murphy for more than a year -- at least 15 months, to be exact.
Nelson gave Murphy's campaign a $5,000 donation in June 2015, the Herald/Times reported last fall. And Nelson hasn't been shy about praising Murphy's candidacy in the months since.
For instance, Nelson had this to say about Murphy in May, when addressing a crowd of Democrats at a Miami fundraiser for state Senate candidate Jose Javier Rodriguez:
"This is the man, if you look at the kind of credentials -- what you’re going to be offered if you’re a Democrat in the Democratic primary or if you’re a Republican, what you’re going to be offered in the general election between him and his opponent -- I think you’ll see why I’m excited by Patrick as well."
Nelson was among the Democratic heavyweights in the party establishment who either quietly or unabashedly supported Murphy in his contested primary against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson -- a strategy that vaulted Murphy into front-runner status and kept him there by paving the way for further endorsements and lucrative campaign donations.
Murphy's campaign said Friday that Nelson will begin headlining campaign events for Murphy. No details have been announced.
Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau